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The Sister-in-Law

Secretly at her side is loving Andy (Craig Wasson), who's married to psychologist Madeline (Shanna Reed), daughter of emphysema-ridden George (Kevin McCarthy).

Secretly at her side is loving Andy (Craig Wasson), who’s married to psychologist Madeline (Shanna Reed), daughter of emphysema-ridden George (Kevin McCarthy).

Sarah Rae’s possible stumbling block is smart cookie Madeline, who knows her hubby isn’t shoveling much romance her way these days.

Sarah Rae goes about sunnily saving Madeline’s life a couple of times, arranges a suicide that points at the doctor, and displays a keen sense of purpose and dedication. Motive? A childhood memory leading back to her parents’ deaths.

Noel Nosseck’s direction is confident, if not hair-raising. Vernon, doing a nifty job of playing it cool when necessary, ably goes mean when required. Wasson’s a persuasive weakling, and Reed, whose poor-thing role is basically passive, goes along with the script.

McCarthy, as the snobbish father, snorts effectively, and Marty Terry, as prospective witness Mrs. Hooley, brings off an admirable naturalism.

Interesting casting is Kent Williams as an associate of Madeline’s at a clinic; Williams, looking like Everyman, comes off a champ.

Paul Maibaum’s camerawork is sharp, and Neil Mandelberg’s editing paces the meller in style.

Production designer Gary Griffin Constable knows how to dress a show to set moods, and Richard Bellis’ score works just as well.

The production looks smart and, if it ultimately runs out of steam, it’s still an eye-catcher — as is Vernon’s malicious villainy.

The Sister-in-Law

(Wed. (12), 9-11 p.m., USA)

Production: Filmed in and around Wilmington, N.C., by CNM Entertainment and Wilshire Court Prods. Producer, Artie Mandelberg; director, Noel Nosseck; writers, David Callaway, Megan Marks; camera , Paul Maibaum; editor, Neil Mandelberg; production designer, Gary Griffin Constable; sound, Peter Bentley; music, Richard Bellis. #Cast: Shanna Reed, Kate Vernon, Craig Wasson, Kent Williams, Kevin McCarthy, Tonea Stewart, Al Wiggins, Barbara Niven, Jeromie Wilson, Marty Terry, Richard K. Olsen, Ralph Wilcox, Rhoda Griffis, James Bowyer, David Leventhall, Mabel Robinson, George Nannarello , Ed Sala, Pearl Jones, Joan Riordan. USA ladles out a better-than-average suspenser in which a revenging femme (played by Kate Vernon) works her way up a family tree so she can saw off the limbs. It's super for those who enjoy watching a boa constrict. Writers David Callaway and Megan Marks offer a prologue in which an orphaned girl symbolically inters a pair of dolls in the backyard. Growing up into the comely Sarah Rae (Vernon), she's now impersonating a widow whom she's knocked off.

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