A tricky plot about a she-devil coming into the lives of a married couple–sound familiar?–kicks off strongly (with a good, scary look at a man and woman scaling a high cliff) and holds up well enough despite a knuckle-headed hero. A couple of what-ifs and why-doesn’t-he’s shake the otherwise well-acted and -directed peep show; the surprises are OK, but the holes are big.
Bruce Boxleitner, happily married to successful defense lawyer Sela Ward, bumps into ex-girlfriend Rachel Ward, with whom he used to climb rocks during their affair. Ward invites him to her apartment and, like a goof, he enjoys an unsafe sexual romp with her in the shower. That done, another of her exes forces his way into her home.
She hides Boxleitner on a balcony, where he sees the stranger rape Ward, who stabs the man to death. Implausibly, Boxleitner, caught outside because of a stuck window, doesn’t break the glass. After his hostess lets him back in, Boxleitner plays mum and sneaks away.
Brilliant attorney Sela Ward ends up defending Rachel Ward, and the TV movie offers twists and some stupefiers as writers Craig Tepper and Monte Steppin slip in a couple of jolts.
Credibility’s strained along the way, but Ward, Ward and Boxleitner have the grace to play it straight, and director Lawrence Schiller carefully plays his cards close to the vest.
Vidpic misses a bet when it casts a self-possessed Sally Kirkland as the femme detective on the case. Instead of making the most of a potentially effective character, the writers leave Kirkland to fend with the underdeveloped character; even with the limited role she has, Kirkland does fine.
Telepic was co-produced by CBS Entertainment Prods., first time the outfit has produced a program for anything but CBS, according to a Showtime handout, which notes it will be airing on CBS “at a later date.”
If so, scenes of Boxleitner parading in the buff, the well-defined rape scene , the explicit shower seg and Rachel Ward’s foul lingo will have to be scrubbed.
The production looks good, and Schiller has given the vidpic a crisp, fast-moving pace. Though the old-fashioned windup with a competitive rock climb is hardly a surprise, “Double Jeopardy” still boils down to an attention-getting meller with human touches.