Susan Lucci's up to her usual no good in a role showcasing her wardrobe and her sly thesping styles. An expensive-looking hand-me-down murder tale written by Steve Johnson and directed without distinction by Steve Robman, it's gloss on pulp paper.

Susan Lucci’s up to her usual no good in a role showcasing her wardrobe and her sly thesping styles. An expensive-looking hand-me-down murder tale written by Steve Johnson and directed without distinction by Steve Robman, it’s gloss on pulp paper.

Isabelle (Lucci), married to incredibly wealthy Stewart (John O’Hurley, with one of the two believable interps), in the first scene is bouncing around in the buff with Richard (Philip Casnoff, the other credible per-former), who sells yachts and wants her to marry him. No, she can’t ditch her husband because she’d lose bland 10-year-old daughter Ruby (Lauren Collins) in a divorce.

Or so our Isabelle claims as she suggests too earnestly that hubby’s been manhandling her. Actually, she wants Richard to put Stewart away, and with her conniving ways, she’ll manage it. Duped Richard hires a gunman, who efficiently goes about his business after Isabelle and Richard have established their separate alibis.

The story’s old hat, and the dialogue — dusting off that scorpion-turtle fable, one character tries making it sound new — doesn’t say much. Writer Johnson introduces no supportive characters to flesh out the storyline and create persuasive texture; indeed, clocking in at only 89-plus minutes for a two-hour air slot, there’s little room for subtlety or exposition.

Isabelle’s character’s jotted down in shorthand — her evil nature’s blamed on a horrid childhood memory in which, in flashbacks, she ties up a fedora’d man again and again with rope. It isn’t explained, and there’s no need.

The attractive Lucci moves Isabelle along by her reliably mechanistic acting style and by the strength of an attention-getting personality.

Kamar de los Reyes adds little spark as a lawyer Isabelle gets her hooks into. Joe Grifasi and Dean McDermott, playing detectives after Isabelle (one of them provides the telepic’s point: “This babe’s got too much time on her hands!”), prove that cop stereotypes are still available. Nicholas Campbell’s the hired killer, and he acts tough.

Secondary casting is disappointing thanks to the writing. Vidpic filmed in Toronto by Robert Primes looks smart, and David Post’s editing assures a good pacing. Susan Longmire’s production design is lovely.

Blood on her Hands

Telepic drama; ABC Sun. March 22, 9 p.m

Production

Filmed in Toronto by Robert Greenwald Prods. Inc. Executive producers, Robert Greenwald, Kimberly Rubin; producer, Philip Klein-bart; co-producer, Helmet Huber; director, Steve Robman; writer, Steve Johnson; story, Kenneth Alan Berg, Johnson.

Crew

Camera, Robert Primes; editor, David Post; production designer, Susan Longmire; art director, Alta Louise Doyle; sound, Karl Scherer; music, Steve Edwards; casting, Robin Lippin, Jon Comerford (Toronto).

Cast

Cast: Susan Lucci, John O'Hurley, Lauren Collins, Philip Casnoff, Kamar de los Reyes, Joe Gifasi, Nicholas Campbell, Dean McDermott, Barbara Eve Harris, Sydnee Newman, Louis Di Bianco, David Gardner, Jennifer Griffin, Shaun Austin-Olsen, Donald Carrier, Katherine Asttby, Barry Blake, Von Flores, Ian Deakin, John, Kirsten Kieferle, James Gonzalez, Gloria Slade, John Dibben, Sandi Stahlbrand, Jane Luk, Deborah Drakeford.
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