My Name Is Kate” starts out hard and fast as a riveting telepic examining the destructive forces alcoholism creates when the woman in the family drinks. Telepic hits the wall at the halfway point, though, and even strong acting by leads Donna Mills and Daniel J. Travanti can’t stave off an early last call from what ends up being a run-of-the-mill boozer story.
Director Rod Hardy winds up Mills’ Kate Bannister right from the beginning as a self-absorbed ego drowning in liquor to the point that she’s a human wrecking ball at home and work.
The booze fuels her fall, and her patient but obviously annoyed hubby, Hal Bannister (Travanti), takes his wife’s life by the reins, twisting her arm with threats of family abandonment unless she enters rehabilitation immediately.
Maybe the best scene in George Eckstein’s script is the family confrontation, with Mills succumbing only when her kids join the abandonment chorus.
Unfortunately, the recovery is not as riveting as the fall — far from it. Just as Mills nicely shifts gears from raving drunk to remorseful addict, Hardy’s production takes on a somber, darker feel with shadowy pictures and much slower pacing.
Ending is perfectly linear, with Mills’ character a recovering alcoholic picking herself up by the bootstraps. And even though her husband does leave her , there’s not much surprise or mystery, which keeps “My Name Is Kate” from truly excelling.