To Dance With Olivia (Sun. (9), 9-11 p.m., CBS) Filmed in Wilmington, N.C., by Finnegan-Pinchuk Co. in association with Logo Prods. Inc. and Hallmark Entertainment. Executive producers, Louis Gossett Jr., Hillard Elkins, Dennis Considine; producer, Pat Finnegan; director, Bruce Pittman; writer, H. Haden Yellin; camera, Frank Flynn; editor, Ralph Brunjes; production designer, David Ensley; sound, Carl Rudisill; music, David Shire; casting, Susan Edelman, Mary V. Buck. Cast: Louis Gossett Jr., Joe Don Baker, Lonette McKee, Kathleen York, William Schallert, Beth Grant, Scott Lawrence, Kathryne Dora Brown, Robert Treveiler, Doren Fein, Frankie Muniz, Pamela Garmon, Phil Loch, Elizabeth Omilami, Chandler Parker, Sondra Barrie, Ron Dortch, Barry Bell.Louis Gossett Jr. in the role of a small-town lawyer dominates this respectable drama about guilt and the sins of fathers being visited on the noggins of innocent children. To the telefilm's detriment, Gossett's trademark dignity permeates the proceedings, which he also executive produced. Because there's not a believable villain or other strong character, he doesn't have much to play against, or much to do for that matter. H. Haden Yellin's script is too diffuse for the story to fully crystallize, and so despite Gossett's strong performance the result is a tad stolid. It's 1961 and the denizens of a small Missouri town are exorcising ghosts, though not ones of an explicitly racial kind. Instead the shared secrets of two friends who grew up poor together are revealed. Daniel (Gossett) became an attorney and Horace (Joe Don Baker) became a Huey Long-like congressman. While overlooking Horace's indiscretions, Daniel brought him the Negro vote on the promise he would bring electricity to the black part of town. Daniel lives in a stately, well-lit home and has been integrated into the town's white power structure. Movie begins with a white child, Horace's son, being accidentally shot in a black farmer's field with a gun rigged to keep deer away. Will Daniel defend? He hesitates to take the case because four years earlier he lost his young son in an accidental shooting. His wife, Olivia of the title (Lonette McKee), is a shut-in, sick with grief, guilt and blame. Meanwhile, their daughter (Kathryne Dora Brown) is getting married. Any hope for a stirring courtroom drama in the "To Kill a Mockingbird" vein is dashed with abruptly handled trial scenes. Haunted by memories and mistakes, the issue is whether Daniel and Olivia reconcile with the past and resurface as whole people. Although individual scenes are handled with surety by director Bruce Pittman, crucial parts of the story told in flashback are difficult to follow. A long wind-up puts the pieces into place and then revelations are dispensed in a less than suspenseful way. Seeing Daniel and Horace as youngsters or at least young men might have created a fuller picture of their relationship. Conditioned for clear-cut right vs. wrong and juicy culpability, the audience is taken into a gray moral area. The sins of Horace and to a lesser extent Daniel are many. While the makers admirably avoided being pat, one big secret might have made for a tighter drama. The statuesque Gossett carries the picture with an excellent showing. Baker appears to know a ham hock from a jug of moonshine, yet it's too bad he's not allowed to wallow in the muck. McKee is suitably ghostlike as the grieving wife and mother. Other characters such as a benign judge (William Schallert) and a prosecutor who's above reproach go against expectations. All the tech work is fine indeed.

To Dance With Olivia (Sun. (9), 9-11 p.m., CBS) Filmed in Wilmington, N.C., by Finnegan-Pinchuk Co. in association with Logo Prods. Inc. and Hallmark Entertainment. Executive producers, Louis Gossett Jr., Hillard Elkins, Dennis Considine; producer, Pat Finnegan; director, Bruce Pittman; writer, H. Haden Yellin; camera, Frank Flynn; editor, Ralph Brunjes; production designer, David Ensley; sound, Carl Rudisill; music, David Shire; casting, Susan Edelman, Mary V. Buck. Cast: Louis Gossett Jr., Joe Don Baker, Lonette McKee, Kathleen York, William Schallert, Beth Grant, Scott Lawrence, Kathryne Dora Brown, Robert Treveiler, Doren Fein, Frankie Muniz, Pamela Garmon, Phil Loch, Elizabeth Omilami, Chandler Parker, Sondra Barrie, Ron Dortch, Barry Bell.Louis Gossett Jr. in the role of a small-town lawyer dominates this respectable drama about guilt and the sins of fathers being visited on the noggins of innocent children. To the telefilm’s detriment, Gossett’s trademark dignity permeates the proceedings, which he also executive produced. Because there’s not a believable villain or other strong character, he doesn’t have much to play against, or much to do for that matter. H. Haden Yellin’s script is too diffuse for the story to fully crystallize, and so despite Gossett’s strong performance the result is a tad stolid. It’s 1961 and the denizens of a small Missouri town are exorcising ghosts, though not ones of an explicitly racial kind. Instead the shared secrets of two friends who grew up poor together are revealed. Daniel (Gossett) became an attorney and Horace (Joe Don Baker) became a Huey Long-like congressman. While overlooking Horace’s indiscretions, Daniel brought him the Negro vote on the promise he would bring electricity to the black part of town. Daniel lives in a stately, well-lit home and has been integrated into the town’s white power structure. Movie begins with a white child, Horace’s son, being accidentally shot in a black farmer’s field with a gun rigged to keep deer away. Will Daniel defend? He hesitates to take the case because four years earlier he lost his young son in an accidental shooting. His wife, Olivia of the title (Lonette McKee), is a shut-in, sick with grief, guilt and blame. Meanwhile, their daughter (Kathryne Dora Brown) is getting married. Any hope for a stirring courtroom drama in the “To Kill a Mockingbird” vein is dashed with abruptly handled trial scenes. Haunted by memories and mistakes, the issue is whether Daniel and Olivia reconcile with the past and resurface as whole people. Although individual scenes are handled with surety by director Bruce Pittman, crucial parts of the story told in flashback are difficult to follow. A long wind-up puts the pieces into place and then revelations are dispensed in a less than suspenseful way. Seeing Daniel and Horace as youngsters or at least young men might have created a fuller picture of their relationship. Conditioned for clear-cut right vs. wrong and juicy culpability, the audience is taken into a gray moral area. The sins of Horace and to a lesser extent Daniel are many. While the makers admirably avoided being pat, one big secret might have made for a tighter drama. The statuesque Gossett carries the picture with an excellent showing. Baker appears to know a ham hock from a jug of moonshine, yet it’s too bad he’s not allowed to wallow in the muck. McKee is suitably ghostlike as the grieving wife and mother. Other characters such as a benign judge (William Schallert) and a prosecutor who’s above reproach go against expectations. All the tech work is fine indeed.

To Dance with Olivia

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

Production

Filmed in Wilmington, N.C., by Finnegan-Pinchuk Co. in association with Logo Prods. Inc. and Hallmark Entertainment. Executive producers, Louis Gossett Jr., Hillard Elkins, Dennis Considine; producer, Pat Finnegan; director, Bruce Pittman; writer, H. Haden Yellin;

Crew

camera, Frank Flynn; editor, Ralph Brunjes; production designer, David Ensley; sound, Carl Rudisill; music, David Shire; casting, Susan Edelman, Mary V. Buck.

Cast

Cast: Louis Gossett Jr., Joe Don Baker, Lonette McKee, Kathleen York, William Schallert, Beth Grant, Scott Lawrence, Kathryne Dora Brown, Robert Treveiler, Doren Fein, Frankie Muniz, Pamela Garmon, Phil Loch, Elizabeth Omilami, Chandler Parker, Sondra Barrie, Ron Dortch, Barry Bell.

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