×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cbs Sunday Movie a Family of Strangers

Combining elements of disease-of-the-week and melodramatic mystery with a measure of tear-jerking appeal, and the toplining of Melissa Gilbert and Patty Duke in their first pairing since 1979's "The Miracle Worker,""A Family of Strangers" is a perfect formulation for a successful TV movie. In fact, the pic's pretty good.

With:
Cast: Melissa Gilbert, Patty Duke, Martha Gibson, Gordon Clapp, Chuck Shamata , Eric McCormack, Ashley Rogers, John Shaw, Stephen Dimopoulos, Melody Ryane, Tasha Simms, Michael Iacobucci, Dax Belanger, Peter Stebbings, Leslie Hopps, Michelle Beaudoin, Cocky Martin, Christina Jastrzembska, Susan Chapple.

Combining elements of disease-of-the-week and melodramatic mystery with a measure of tear-jerking appeal, and the toplining of Melissa Gilbert and Patty Duke in their first pairing since 1979’s “The Miracle Worker,””A Family of Strangers” is a perfect formulation for a successful TV movie. In fact, the pic’s pretty good.

Gilbert stars as Julie Lawson, a Seattle woman who discovers she has a rare, but treatable, brain condition. If there is a history of strokes in Lawson’s family, though, her doctor (Melody Ryane) will not risk an operation.

Only then does Julie discover the secret hidden by her father, that she’s (gasp!) adopted. Thus begins a search for her birth parents, to discover whether there’s a history of strokes in their families.

Julie, a professional researcher, tracks down mom Beth Thompson (Duke) with remarkable ease, though it takes a while to get Thompson to admit that she is the mother. Tracking down the father, who may be one of several people, is somewhat more difficult and constitutes the mystery portion of the progressively involving story, said to be based on a true incident and nicely scripted by William Gough and Anna Sandor.

Certain aspects are rather pat: Thompson was raped, but she had a pretty good idea of the rapist’s identity; Thompson was very easy to locate, and both Thompson and her pal Sue (Martha Gibson) conveniently hoard memorabilia.

Gilbert and Duke turn in strong, believable perfs, and William Shatner is restrained as Gilbert’s hand-wringing adoptive father.

Among the supporting cast, Gibson is notable as Duke’s lifetime friend, and Gordon Clapp menaces as the most heavily featured of the prospective fathers. Eric McCormack appears briefly as Julie’s estranged husband, evidently around to further demonstrate her resoluteness.

Director Sheldon Larry keeps the action moving swiftly and with little padding; tech credits are OK.

If there’s one lesson to be learned, it’s to let your kids know early that they’re adopted. “Beth Thompson gave me life,” Lawson reassures Shatner’s character. “You gave me love.”

Cbs Sunday Movie a Family of Strangers

(Sun. (21), 9-11 p.m., CBS)

Production: Filmed in Vancouver by Alliance Communications Corp. Executive producers, Robert Lantos, Michael Weisbarth; co-executive producer, Frank P. Rosenberg; producers, William Gough, John Ryan; director, Sheldon Larry; script, William Gough, Anna Sandor, based on the book "Jody" by Jerry Hulse.

Crew: Camera, Ron Orieux; editor, Ralph Brunjes; production designer, David Jaquest; art director, Randy Chodak; sound, Michael T. Williamson; music, Peter Manning Robinson.

Cast: Cast: Melissa Gilbert, Patty Duke, Martha Gibson, Gordon Clapp, Chuck Shamata , Eric McCormack, Ashley Rogers, John Shaw, Stephen Dimopoulos, Melody Ryane, Tasha Simms, Michael Iacobucci, Dax Belanger, Peter Stebbings, Leslie Hopps, Michelle Beaudoin, Cocky Martin, Christina Jastrzembska, Susan Chapple.

More TV

  • BBC Orders Oscar Wilde Documentary with

    BBC Orders Oscar Wilde Documentary With Stephen Fry, Freddie Fox

    A new documentary about Oscar Wilde will tell the celebrated writer’s story with a star cast recreating excerpts from his greatest works, including “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Freddie Fox, Claire Skinner, Anna Chancellor and James Fleet will all perform in the 80-minute show, “The Importance of Being Oscar,” which [...]

  • FOSSE VERDON -- Pictured: (l-r) Michelle

    TV News Roundup: 'Fosse/Verdon' Premiere Date Set at FX

    In today’s TV news roundup, FX announced the premiere date for “Fosse/Verdon,” and Comedy Central released a new trailer for the final season of “Broad City.”  DATES “Workin’ Moms” is set to premiere Feb. 22 on Netflix. The series, which is currently in its third season, first aired in Canada on CBC Television and is [...]

  • Ilana Glazer Abbi Jacobson

    'Broad City' Stars on Discovering New Aspects of Their Characters

    Throughout the run of “Broad City,” creators Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have been conflicted about how much of their on-screen characters (also named Abbi and Ilana) should come directly from their personalities and lives. But when it came to the final season, Jacobson in particular experienced a life-changing shift that she wanted to impart [...]

  • The Goldbergs spinoff

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilot 'Uninsured' From 'Goldbergs' Producers

    NBC has ordered a pilot for the multi-camera comedy “Uninsured.” In the series, young parents Dave and Rebecca end up having to take care of Dave’s parents who have mishandled their finances and need help to pay down a sizable debt. Dan Levy will serve as writer and executive producer, with Doug Robinson and Alison Greenspan [...]

  • Emily Kapnek

    'Splitting Up Together' Creator Emily Kapnek Inks Overall Deal at ABC Studios (EXCLUSIVE)

    Writer and producer Emily Kapnek has signed a three-year overall deal at ABC Studios, Variety has learned exclusively. Kapnek most recently developed the ABC single-cam comedy series “Splitting Up Together,” which is based on the Danish series “Bedre skilt end aldrig.” She was previously under an overall deal at Warner Bros. Television, which produces “Splitting Up [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content