Keeping the Promise (Sun. (5), 9-11 p.m., CBS) Filmed in Toronto by Atlantis Films in association with the Clorox Co., Rabbit Ears Prods. and Marian Rees Associates. Executive producers, Peter Sussman, Jack McQueen; co-executive producer, Mark Sottnick; producer, Martin Katz; director, Sheldon Larry; writer, Gerald DiPego; camera, Ron Stannett; production designer, Rolf Harvey; editor, Ronald Sanders; sound, Jeremy MacLaverty, Barry Gilmore, David Taylor; music, Peter Manning Robinson; costume designer, Eydi Caines-Floyd; casting, Philliss Huffman. Cast: Keith Carradine, Annette O’Toole, Brendan Fletcher, Gordon Tootoosis, Maury Chaykin, David Cubitt, Allegra Denton, Smithy, Camilla Scott, Daniel Kash, Ruby Jean Gillette. Handsomely filmed period vidpic stands out as a compelling, if heavy-handed, frontier drama, with sharp performances and strong messages about tolerance and racial harmony in the era before the shallow enlightenment of political correctness blurred the issues. Life is hard for the Hallowell family of Springfield, Mass., back in 1768. Will Hallowell (Keith Carradine) is a man of the land looking for a better life for his wife and three children. His wife Anne (Annette O’Toole) suffers in silence, giving her opinion only when asked, as per the social mores of the time. Hallowell’s eldest son Matt (Brendan Fletcher), though only 13, peddles his credentials as a man, and dad buys it. So after the two have trekked to Maine (which bodes a more promising future), claimed a parcel of land and built a nifty cabin to house the clan, Will decides to leave the boy by his lonesome while he heads back to Massachusetts to fetch the rest of the family. You might think of it as “Home Alone: The Really Early Years.” Everything of course goes to heck, dad-gummit. Matt gets his prized rifle stolen by a crook who looks like Larry Flynt, and then nearly dies in a fall while chasing the guy, only to be rescued by a kind, elderly Penobscot Indian named Sakniss (Gordon Tootoosis). Meanwhile, back in Massachusetts, typhoid fever claims the Hallowell’s infant son and nearly the grief-stricken Anne as well, delaying their bid to link back up with Matt. Matt, however, has gone the “Little Big Man” route and is getting a feel for the Indian life and customs as he’s nursed back to health by Sakniss. But the elder man has a motive. He wants Matt to teach his grandson to read and write so his people won’t get futzed around by the white man in treaties anymore. In return, the white boy gets taught how to survive outdoors, without Tickle Me Elmo or any of the other comforts of the Caucasian world. The relationship between the wary Matt and Sakniss’ reluctant grandson infuses “Keeping the Promise” with a core of realism, with Gerald DiPego’s potent, sensitive script showcasing the passing down from generation to generation of the lingering hatred toward whites for their unconscionable displacement of Native Americans from the land they inhabited for so long. If the story sometimes tries too hard to get its point across, at least it doesn’t soft-pedal the complexity of the racial clash itself. Director Sheldon Larry gets the most out of his players and the lush location scenery of rural Toronto that subs for 18th-century colonial America. In particular, O’Toole and young Fletcher give heartfelt, charged performances, with the former seizing the screen in one memorable scene in which she passionately cries out to have her voice heard in a world of male dominance. Exceptional camerawork by Ron Stannett and his team and vibrant costumes by Eydi Caines-Floyd bolster what plays out as a first-rate production all around.