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Borrowed Hearts

It's Roma Downey's turn to get touched by an angel in "Borrowed Hearts," a highly watchable and highly shmaltzy holiday offering from CBS. The combination of Downey, angels and a slick production should leave a nice ratings gift under the Eye web's Christmas tree.

With:
Roma Downey, Eric McCormack, Shawn Alex Thompson, Janet Bailey, Kevin Hicks, Barbara Gorden, Hector Elizondo, Sarah Rosen Fruitman, James Mainprize, Catherine Fitch, Wendy MacDonald, R.D. Reid, Valerie Boyle, Sharon Heldt, Kelly Kuz, Kim Bourne, Cody Jones.

It’s Roma Downey’s turn to get touched by an angel in “Borrowed Hearts,” a highly watchable and highly shmaltzy holiday offering from CBS. The combination of Downey, angels and a slick production should leave a nice ratings gift under the Eye web’s Christmas tree.

The fairy tale — and this tale is nothing but — begins with single mom Kathleen Russell (Downey), working in a factory and living in a rundown apartment with daughter Zoey (Sarah Rosen Fruitman). Fortunately, they’re surrounded by a super-supportive circle of friends.

Playboy Sam Field (Eric McCormack), scion of a wealthy industrialist family, happens to own the factory in which Kathleen labors. On the eve of closing a deal to sell the factory to Javier Del Campo (Hector Elizondo), Sam must convince Del Campo that he is a family man.

Thus, Sam and right-hand-man Dave (Shawn Alex Thompson) have to “rent” a family. By accident — or because Del Campo is an angel by fate — Kathleen appears on the scene and agrees to the ruse for a price. She and moppet move in. You can see where this is going.

But what makes “Borrowed Hearts” fun is the snappy, shallow, engaging script and story by Pamela Wallace and Earl Wallace. Also, kudos to Thompson, who infuses Dave with enough cynicism to cut some of the sugar poured in the first hour. Unfortunately, by the second hour, the Wallaces start to really tug at those heartstrings, but by that time, you’re hooked.

Hunky McCormack limns Sam with an extremely light and humorous touch; when he’s called on to emote, he successfully gives Sam depth.

The lovely Downey and Elizondo don’t have all that much to do, and young thesp Fruitman is fine.

Production design by Rolf Harvey and costumes by Linda Muir hit the mark in evoking New England wealth. Ted Kotcheff’s direction is snappy.

It’s no use hiding: Surrender! Surrender to the shmaltz!

Borrowed Hearts

Sun. (30), 9-11 p.m. CBS

Production: Filmed in Toronto by Atlantis Films. Executive producers, Peter Sussman, Ed Gernon, Gary Delfiner, Roma Downey; producer, Mary Kahn; director, Ted Kotcheff; writers, Pamela Wallace, Earl Wallace;

Crew: Camera, Michael Storey; editor, Ralph Brunjes; production design, Rolf Harvey; sound, Rick Cadger, Paul Chicada; music, John Weisman; casting, Tina Gerussi, Darlene Kaplan.

Cast: Roma Downey, Eric McCormack, Shawn Alex Thompson, Janet Bailey, Kevin Hicks, Barbara Gorden, Hector Elizondo, Sarah Rosen Fruitman, James Mainprize, Catherine Fitch, Wendy MacDonald, R.D. Reid, Valerie Boyle, Sharon Heldt, Kelly Kuz, Kim Bourne, Cody Jones.

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