×

Abc Sunday Night Movie Shameful Secrets

Compelling and convincing performances by its leads sell this two-hour telefilm, which treads familiar ground concerning spousal abuse and the dearth of legal protection for battered women.

With:
Cast: Joanna Kerns, Tim Matheson, La Tanya Richardson, Katherine Cortez, Elizabeth Franz, Bruce McGill, Justin Isfeld, Khandi Alexander, Corrine Bohrer, Ashley Peldon, Theresa Saldana, Robert Nadir, Ellen Dubin, Norman Snow, Michael Eugene Fairman, Jeanette O'Connor, Marie Barrientos, Maria Bembenek, Lisa Chess, Patrick De Santis.

Compelling and convincing performances by its leads sell this two-hour telefilm, which treads familiar ground concerning spousal abuse and the dearth of legal protection for battered women.

The hook here concerns attempts at passing legislation that would allow evidence of spousal abuse to be heard in family law proceedings, including custody hearings. Some states bar such info from being introduced.

Kerns, as battered mom Maryanne Walker-Tate, looks believably haggard and hapless in her role as the subservient wife to paranoid and at times maniacal hubby Daniel, ably played by Tim Matheson. Kerns strays far from her former “Growing Pains” persona as Disney-mom Maggie Seaver, and delivers an Emmy-quality reading in this fact-based drama.

Backdropped by the blissful suburban lives of neighbors, Daniel terrorizes his wife and two kids at every turn. The abuse scenes may be uncomfortable for some to watch, and have prompted ABC to offer a parental advisory before and during the show warning viewers of the program’s graphic nature.

Scripter Stephanie Liss uses the time wisely to tell the tale, never laboring any one aspect of the plight of a battered woman, yet stopping long enough to get the gist before moving on. But she also raises many more questions — among them why the cops are never called and why everyone can tell it’s abuse except the abused woman — and asks the viewers to presume a great deal.

Perfs by Kerns and Matheson are top-notch. Justin Isfeld also is first-rate as the couple’s wise-beyond-his-years son.

Program’s end is unsatisfying. Closing with the court allowing Maryanne to take the witness stand in a custody hearing, the telepic implies the abuse will be uncovered and she will be awarded sole custody of the kids. It’s another presumption that may leave some viewers cold.

Popular on Variety

Abc Sunday Night Movie Shameful Secrets

(Sun. (10), 9-11 p.m., ABC)

Production: Filmed in Southern California by Steve White Films in association with ABC. Executive producer, Steve White. Producer, Barry Bernardi. Director, David Carson. Writer, Stephanie Liss; co-producer, Ken Raskoff; director of photography, Christopher Taylor.

Crew: Editor, Lance Luckey; production design, Curtis Schnell; camera, James Etheridge; sound, Jim Stuebe; music, Allan K. Rosen.

Cast: Cast: Joanna Kerns, Tim Matheson, La Tanya Richardson, Katherine Cortez, Elizabeth Franz, Bruce McGill, Justin Isfeld, Khandi Alexander, Corrine Bohrer, Ashley Peldon, Theresa Saldana, Robert Nadir, Ellen Dubin, Norman Snow, Michael Eugene Fairman, Jeanette O'Connor, Marie Barrientos, Maria Bembenek, Lisa Chess, Patrick De Santis.

More TV

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

  • A LITLLE LATE WITH LILLY SINGH

    TV Review: 'A Little Late with Lilly Singh'

    Lilly Singh is well aware of her unique place in late night. After kicking off her first episode with a rap dedicated to the fact that she is not, unlike every other network late-night host, a straight white man, Singh walks out onto her own stage and addresses it with her audience directly. “I get [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Peter Coyote Riffs on 'Country Music' and How He Admires and Challenges Ken Burns

    Though an instantly recognizable face from films such as “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “A Walk to Remember” and “Erin Brockovich,” it is Peter Coyote’s voice — a coolly authoritative baritone with a Zen master’s holy roll — that has endeared him to documentary lovers and makers. Alrhough director-writer Alex Gibney used Coyote’s wisened narration for “Enron: [...]

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 19:

    Emmys 2019: Inside All the Hottest Pre-Parties

    It’s (Emmys) party time! Before the 71st annual Emmys go live on Sunday, stars and execs are keeping busy by party-hopping in the days leading up to the big show. Here, Variety gives you the inside details on who was where and what they were doing. Keep checking back right here throughout the weekend for [...]

  • Atmosphere71st Primetime Emmy Awards Nominations Announcement,

    Emmys: Looking Ahead to 2020, Here Are Some of the Rules That the TV Academy Should Address

    When this year’s Emmy nominations were announced in July, Netflix’s gripping and powerful “When They See Us” earned several well-deserved nods, including limited series, as well as actor (Jharrel Jerome) and directing (Ava DuVernay) for limited series or a movie. It also cleaned up in the limited series supporting actor and actress categories — but [...]

  • Prodigal-Son

    TV Review: 'Prodigal Son'

    Darkness on network TV can feel a bit by-the-book; in order to impress us with how edgy they’re able to be within stricter boundaries than cable and streaming, dramas lard on violence and evil that can feel a bit unmotivated. Which is why “Prodigal Son,” a new Fox drama, is in its first three episodes [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content