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Danielle Steel’s ‘Heartbeat’

From the folks who brought you "Danielle Steel's 'Daddy' " comes "Danielle Steel's 'Heartbeat' "-- no award-winner but a surefire ratings bet with Monday female demos. John Ritter and Polly Draper in a soft-focus clinch? Murphy Brown wouldn't watch it, but someof her fans probably will.

From the folks who brought you “Danielle Steel’s ‘Daddy’ ” comes “Danielle Steel’s ‘Heartbeat’ “– no award-winner but a surefire ratings bet with Monday female demos. John Ritter and Polly Draper in a soft-focus clinch? Murphy Brown wouldn’t watch it, but someof her fans probably will.

For her legions of admirers, Steel — who again intros the pic herself — invents the perfect man. L.A. denizen Bill Grant (John Ritter) is successful, divorced and writes for a soap opera. He’s also tired of dating beautiful actresses and wants to get married and make a family again. Oh, and he’s not afraid to cry.

Bill: meet Adrian Townsend (Polly Draper), a TV producer unhappily married to a guy (Kevin Kilner) who doesn’t want kids because of his own dysfunctional youth. Since Bill and Adrian work at the same station, the inevitable occurs. Before long she’s going on deeply romantic camping trips with him and his boys.

Ritter is a master of light romance. He breezes through without even breaking a sweat (just the occasional tear). The squeaky, raspy-voiced Draper works harder to break her “thirtysomething” mold and become a true woman of Steel: tough, hypersensitive, beautiful.

Director Michael Miller efficiently navigates the “Love Boat” plot structure and production designer James Agazzi keeps the look airily California.

The soap that Bill writes is called “A Life Worth Living.” Whatever these Steel telepix are costing NBC, it’s a price worth paying.

Danielle Steel’s ‘Heartbeat’

(Mon. (8), 9-11 p.m., NBC)

  • Production: Filmed by the Cramer Co. in association with NBC Prods. Executive producer, Douglas S. Cramer; co-producer, Daniel Dugan; supervising producer, Dennis Hammer; director, Michael Miller; writer, Jan Worthington.
  • Crew: Camera, Kees Van Oostrum; editor, David Simmons; production designer, James Agazzi; sound, Darin Knight; music, David Shire.
  • Cast: Cast: John Ritter, Polly Draper, Kevin Kilner, Michael Lembeck, Nancy Morgan, Christian Cousins, Victor DiMattia, Suzanne Suciu, Seth Isler, Steven Gilborn, David Selburg, Jeanine Jackson, Joseph Svezia, Katsy Chappel, Christopher Halsted, Paige Pengra, Danny Hart, Joyce Guy, Tim Maculan, Thomas Knickerbocker.
  • Music By: