Who says there's nothing but garbage on TV? "Forever Love" is high on sentimental value but low on sugar, thanks mostly to the down-to-earth persona of country singer Reba McEntire. Her star power and the heart-warming (and heart-tugging) story should keep "Touched by an Angel's" fans right at home on CBS. With hankies in hand.

Who says there’s nothing but garbage on TV? “Forever Love” is high on sentimental value but low on sugar, thanks mostly to the down-to-earth persona of country singer Reba McEntire. Her star power and the heart-warming (and heart-tugging) story should keep “Touched by an Angel’s” fans right at home on CBS. With hankies in hand.

Director Michael Switzer and writer Joyce Heft Brotman swiftly bring the story into focus, showing Lizzie (McEntire) lying comatose on a hospital bed. Lyrics of McEntire’s original tune “Forever Love” take care of some exposition, while slick flashbacks tell the rest — Lizzie’s meeting and courtship with Alex (Tim Matheson), their marriage and birth of their daughter, Emma (Heather Stephens), their deep friendship with Gail (Bess Armstrong) and Jerry (Andy Buckley).

Alex does not take the marriage vow “in sickness and in health” lightly: He moves Lizzie home, and for 20 years is at her side as she lies in a coma. He’s there when she wakes up, too, but she now must build new relationships with people she left behind two decades ago. Though Brotman’s script paddles lightly in the deeper-issue territory, it has fun with the Rip Van Winkle elements.

Story was “suggested by” a real-life incident, and these people seem too good to be true — especially stand-by-your-woman Alex — which is the telepic’s main flaw. Conflicts are dispatched with such ease that viewers may have some trouble swallowing the plot whole.

But then again, by the time real problems surface, viewers will be solidly hooked, as McEntire’s sunny personality engages from the first frame. Matheson, Armstrong and Stephens are solid.

Rob Draper’s soft camerawork in the flashbacks is effective, and other tech credits are top-notch.

Forever Love

CBS; Sun. Sept. 27, 9 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by Longbow Prods., in association with Starstruck Entertainment and Nasser Entertainment. Executive producers, Ronnie D. Clemmer, Bill Pace, Sharon Cicero, Richard P. Kughn, Reba McEntire, Narvel Clackstock, Shelley Browning, Joseph Nasser, Jack Nasser; producer, William Shipley; consulting producer, Joyce Heft Brotman; director, Michael Switzer; writer, Brotman

Crew

Camera, Rob Draper; editor, Mark Rosenbaum; music, Michael Tavera; production designer, James Shanahan; sound, David Barr Yaffe, Glenn Berkovitz;casting, Susan Glicksman. 2 HOURS.

With

Lizzie - Reba McEntire Alex - Tim Matheson Gail - Bess Armstrong Emma - Heather Stephens David - Scott Foley Chuck - Garrison Hershberger Dr. Berris - Richard Biggs Martha Craddock - Frances Bay Jerry - Andy Buckley Young Emma - Kaitlin Orr With: Garett Beck, Frederick Tucker, Antonia Jones, Kirsten Holly, Evan Taylor, Ryna Browning.
Camera, Rob Draper; editor, Mark Rosenbaum; music, Michael Tavera; production designer, James Shanahan; sound, David Barr Yaffe, Glenn Berkovitz;casting, Susan Glicksman. 2 HOURS.
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