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Because Mommy Works

With Anne Archer's working, divorced mom caught in a custody nightmare over her 6-year-old son, "Because Mommy Works" is a fragile, delicately wired vidpic notable for its restraint rather than its melodrama.

With Anne Archer’s working, divorced mom caught in a custody nightmare over her 6-year-old son, “Because Mommy Works” is a fragile, delicately wired vidpic notable for its restraint rather than its melodrama.

Exec producer Paula Weinstein’s first foray into TV is a deceptively ordinary story with rippling currents.

The dramatic conflict, based (natch) on a true story, is emblematic of a widening social trend: A man (John Heard), now remarried to a full-time homemaker, sues his single, working ex-wife for sole custody of their child on the grounds that he can provide a more stable environment.

At issue are competing values of day care vs. a comfortable, stay-at-home stepmother (the surprisingly conflicted and subtly expressive Ashley Crow).

Abby (Archer), a valued cardiac nurse, has raised Willie (Casey Moses Wurzbach) alone for the last three years. But now his increasingly impatient but otherwise loving dad, a photojournalist, compels Abby to legally defend her ability to give their son a solid home.

The material is grounded by a terrific perf from debuting child actor Wurzbach. The young thesp’s strength here is his quiet, penetrating gaze, his huge blue eyes conveying more confusion and depth than dialogue could achieve.

Heightening the tension are Robert Markowitz’s low-key direction and the affecting teleplay by Christine Berardo (from a story by Lynn Mamet and Marjorie David).

Binding it all together is the luminous Archer. Her fear of loss, growing outrage and new romance (the well-cast Tom Amandes) are invariably, and wisely, tremulous rather than histrionic.

Because Mommy Works

Mon. (21), 9-11 p.m., NBC

  • Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Newport-Balboa Prods., Spring Creek Prods. and Warner Bros. Television. Executive producer, Paula Weinstein. Producers, Abby Wolf, Robin Forman, Phil Parslow. Co-producers, Anne Archer, Cameron Stauth, David Shaw. Director, Robert Markowitz; writer, Christine Berardo; story by Lynn Mamet, Marjorie David.
  • Crew: Camera, Ron Garcia; editor, David Beatty; additional editing, Neil Mandelberg; production designer, Christiaan Wagener; sound, Mark McNabb; music, Patrick Williams.
  • Cast: Cast: Anne Archer, John Heard, Ashley Crow, Tom Amandes, Casey Moses Wurzbach , Jenny Gago, Jan Triska, Michael Constantine, Page Leong, Ebick Pizzadili, Trenton Knight.
  • Music By: