In this era of "Jerry Springer" and "Leeza," the "fact-based" drama of a network telepic better deliver the goods: outrageous characters and actions, a juicy storyline, forbidden sex, extreme dysfunction. But "In My Sister's Shadow" doesn't deliver as it dips into the reality-based well and falls far short of providing a compelling or campy or even entertaining story. The archives of the "fact-based" drama are getting thin if this is the best the Eye could do.

In this era of “Jerry Springer” and “Leeza,” the “fact-based” drama of a network telepic better deliver the goods: outrageous characters and actions, a juicy storyline, forbidden sex, extreme dysfunction. But “In My Sister’s Shadow” doesn’t deliver as it dips into the reality-based well and falls far short of providing a compelling or campy or even entertaining story. The archives of the “fact-based” drama are getting thin if this is the best the Eye could do.

Doormat Joan (Nancy McKeon) has always played second fiddle to pretty sister Laurie (Alexandra Wilson). When Laurie finally leaves her longtime boyfriend, Michael (Thomas McCarthy), after a roller-coaster relationship, Joan is there again to pick up the pieces.

But Laurie doesn’t need to be picked up for very long: She meets Mark (Mark Dobies), a cutie who owns a fish store.

Michael, on the other hand, can’t get over the breakup and begins stalking Laurie and her new beau, all the while trying to seduce and insinuate plain Jane Joan into his life — and turn her against her sister.

Laurie and Mark decide to get married, which pushes Michael over the edge and forces Joan to make some kind of decision. But the script has introduced other elements that it can’t quite keep track of, like the suicide of Joan and Laurie’s father, and a mom (a surprised-looking Janet Leigh) who plays favorites.

It sounds like an interesting story, but the flaccid script by Dan Vining and Ronni Kern doesn’t deliver any thrills (despite the stalker element), psychological motivation (despite the suicide and sibling rivalry elements) or emotional impact (despite the whole enchilada).

Sandor Stern’s direction is at times clumsy, and the actors — save McCarthy , who revels in his psycho role — turn out torpid perfs.

Tech credits are pro, and good use is made of Salt Lake City locations.

In My Sister's Shadow

(Drama; CBS, Tues. Jan. 5, 9 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Salt Lake City by Steinhart Baer Picture Co. in association with CBS Prods. Executive producer, Robert Dalrymple; producers, Sandra Saxon Brice, Kim Rubin; director, Sandor Stern; writers, Dan Vining, Ronni Kern; based on a story by Rob Fresco.

Crew

Camera, Ron Orieux; editor, Jere Huggins; music, Dennis McCarthy; production designer, Frederic Weiler; sound, Richard Birnbaum; casting , Joel Thurm, Cate Praggastis. Running time: 2 HOURS.

With

Kay Connor ..... Janet Leigh Joan Connor ..... Nancy McKeon Michael ..... Thomas McCarthy Laurie Connor ..... Alexandra Wilson Mark ..... Mark Dobies Detective Hunt ..... Scott Wilkerson Trish ..... Christy Summerhays Young Joan ..... Chelsey Rice Mr. Connor ..... Bill Mondy Young Laurie ..... Monique Betty Bill ..... Brad Slocum Punk No. 1 ..... Jaime Rodriguez Punk No. 2 ..... Adam Smoot
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