The Long Island Incident

Like most TV movies inspired by recent news stories, NBC's "The Long Island Incident" suffers next to the fresh memory of its source material. Perhaps, too, the full story is too wide-ranging to be accommodated in one TV movie. McCarthy's world was ripped apart on Dec. 7, 1993, when a gunman opened fire on a crowded commuter train, killing six people, her husband of almost 30 years among them, and wounding 19 people, including her 26-year-old son, Kevin. The creative team behind the film shows admirable restraint by not re-creating the attack or dwelling on the gory aftermath.

With:
Carolyn McCarthy ..... Laurie Metcalf Kevin McCarthy ..... Mackenzie Astin Colin Ferguson ..... Tyrone Benskin Tim Bobek ..... Cedric Smith Natalie Berger ..... Elisa Moolecherry Bob Leahy ..... Greg Ellwand Tommy ..... Lawrence Dane Jean McBride ..... Nancy Beatty Dennie McCarthy ..... Peter MacNeill Dan Frisa ..... Sandy Crawley Bill Leffert ..... Bill Lake Hugh ..... Peter Mensah Dr. Ellen Lipsky ..... Diane D'Aquila Leonard Marshall ..... Martin Doyle Frank McBride ..... John Boylan The extraordinary story of Carolyn McCarthy, the housewife whose triumphs after her husband was killed and son wounded during the Long Island Rail Road attack, was a focal point of New York--area news coverage for several years and is as inspiring as they come. Telepic doesn't provide a new perspective on the story or any significant insights into the characters on which it focuses, instead only rattling off the many cascading developments of this stacked story. "Incident" mounts a powerful (and persistent) argument in favor of gun control; if only as much care had been taken with dramatic exposition.

Like most TV movies inspired by recent news stories, NBC’s “The Long Island Incident” suffers next to the fresh memory of its source material. Perhaps, too, the full story is too wide-ranging to be accommodated in one TV movie. McCarthy’s world was ripped apart on Dec. 7, 1993, when a gunman opened fire on a crowded commuter train, killing six people, her husband of almost 30 years among them, and wounding 19 people, including her 26-year-old son, Kevin. The creative team behind the film shows admirable restraint by not re-creating the attack or dwelling on the gory aftermath.

The horrors of that night and the events that followed forced Carolyn McCarthy out of her quiet suburban existence and into multiple roles — nurse to her son, an outspoken media personality, a tireless crusader for assault-weapon control, a political candidate and, ultimately, the congressional representative from the fourth district of New York.

In life and on the small screen, this story contains an almost overwhelming mix of disparate elements, including glimpses into the mind of a mass murderer and the voracious appetite of the media and its ability to instantly transform an ordinary citizen into a person of influence.

“Incident” moves at a quick clip, without the luxury of thoroughly fleshing out the enormous emotional complexity of it all.

The McCarthys are as unbelievably wholesome as a ’50s sitcom family. Mom is involved with the community center. Dad is leading his son into business. Kevin lives happily at home and is only beginning to enter the grown-up working world. We don’t get to know them well enough here to truly feel their pain.

That the busy film resonates at all is a tribute to Laurie Metcalf, whose sturdy, carefully modulated portrayal of Carolyn might come as a surprise to those who know her only as Roseanne’s frantic sister on “Roseanne” or the murderous caricature of “Scream 2.” It’s nice to see a new actress step up to the telepic forefront, in a role that Joanna Kearns or Judith Light would have had a lock on a few years ago.

As a purely dramatic piece, “Incident” would have benefited by further exploring the dark world and unknown past of gunman Colin Ferguson, whose random actions brought about sweeping changes in the life of an unassuming suburban housewife. Sadly, there is no separating these two people, or their experiences, at least within the context of this story.

The Long Island Incident

(TELEPIC BIO; NBC; SUN. APRIL 19, 9 P.M.)

Production: Filmed in Toronto by Barwood Films. Executive producers, Barbra Streisand, Cis Corman; co-executive producer, Jordan Davis; producers, Rick Rosenberg, Bob Christiansen; co-producers, Rachel Verno, Judith Verno, Judy Miller; director, Joseph Sargent; writer, Maria Nation.

Crew: Camera, Edward J. Pei; editor, Mike Brown; music, Charles Bernstein; production designer, Tom John; art director, Mario Mercuri; set decorator, Michael McShane; sound, Tom Hidderley; casting, Reuben Cannon & Associates (U.S.), Jon Comerford Casting (Canada). 2 HOURS.

With: Carolyn McCarthy ..... Laurie Metcalf Kevin McCarthy ..... Mackenzie Astin Colin Ferguson ..... Tyrone Benskin Tim Bobek ..... Cedric Smith Natalie Berger ..... Elisa Moolecherry Bob Leahy ..... Greg Ellwand Tommy ..... Lawrence Dane Jean McBride ..... Nancy Beatty Dennie McCarthy ..... Peter MacNeill Dan Frisa ..... Sandy Crawley Bill Leffert ..... Bill Lake Hugh ..... Peter Mensah Dr. Ellen Lipsky ..... Diane D'Aquila Leonard Marshall ..... Martin Doyle Frank McBride ..... John Boylan The extraordinary story of Carolyn McCarthy, the housewife whose triumphs after her husband was killed and son wounded during the Long Island Rail Road attack, was a focal point of New York--area news coverage for several years and is as inspiring as they come. Telepic doesn't provide a new perspective on the story or any significant insights into the characters on which it focuses, instead only rattling off the many cascading developments of this stacked story. "Incident" mounts a powerful (and persistent) argument in favor of gun control; if only as much care had been taken with dramatic exposition.

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