Filmed in Toronto and Montreal by Jaffe/Braunstein Films. Exec producers, Michael Jaffe, Howard Braunstein; producer, Christine Sacani; co-producer-writer, Cynthia Whitcomb; director, Mike Robe, based on the novels “Degree of Guilt” and “Eyes of a Child” by Richard North Patterson; camera, Kees Van Oostrum; editor, Bernadette Kelly; art director, Alta Louise Doyle; sound, Stuart French; music, Craig Safan; production designer, Susan Longmire. TX:Cast: Daphne Zuniga, David James Elliott, Patricia Kalember, Adam LaVorgna, Mae Whitman, Vincent Ventresca, Tricia O’Neil, Nigel Bennett, Ron Lea, Theresa Tova, Roman Podhora, Larissa Lapchinski, Amanda Tapping, Suzanne Coy, Kate Lynch, Rosemary Dunsmore, Don Allison, Damir Andrei, Michael Caruna, Vic Cummings, Ray Doucette, Don Francks, Johnny Moore, Gary Gifford, Dorothy Gordon, Robert Kennedy, Francois Klanfer, Michael Kramer, Tabitha Lupien, Gerry Mendicino, Panou Mowling, Jack Newman, Vicki Papavs, Ric Patterson, Daniel Pawlick, Jackie Richardson, Catherine Swing, Lane White, Lloyd White. Packing two of Richard North Patterson’s crime novels into a four-hour miniseries featuring his Frisco criminal lawyer Christopher Paget has its problems, and writer Cynthia Whitcomb and some casting haven’t licked them. Major coup is Sharon Lawrence as accused murderess Mary Carelli and some helpful grittiness under Mike Robe’s shrewd direction; otherwise it’s tough keeping the suds at bay. Trouble’s brewing on a back burner for Terri, whose no-good hubby, Richie (live wire Vincent Ventresca), won’t work and who’s trying to shake her down for money. By Part II they’re using their wee daughter as a pawn and, since sleeping around seems to be a requisite for this bunch, Terri finds herself in Paget’s berth.
Rosa (Tricia O’Neil), Terri’s patient mom, likes abusive Richie and doesn’t think much of Paget. After all, he’s helping break up the misbegotten marriage, and his own past isn’t too clean. And then there are those tiresome childhood dreams Terri’s having about a man clawing at the back screen door while Rosa goes on scrubbing a pan. Things turn really bad for Terri when she moves home to Rosa and Richie apparently shoots himself. Whoops! Another trial.
Power of Lawrence’s perf is apparent when, in Part II, she’s mentioned but doesn’t appear; she’s sorely missed. Elliott’s collar-ad handsome but disappointingly bland as Paget. Zuniga acts appropriately concerned about everything, but that’s about it.
Patricia Kalember supplies quality as a judge presiding over Mary’s trial and , thankfully, as Elliott’s attorney when he’s charged with murder. LaVorgna delivers a sincere interp as Carlo; O’Neil’s Rosa is suitably subdued.
Murder cases are deep into abusiveness, but this miniseries is too deep into meller and old-hat routines to furnish many surprises. Production designer Susan Longmire doesn’t make Toronto look much like San Francisco, but a one-day shoot in Montreal offers an OK feel of Paris.
Kees Van Oostrum’s lensing is again smart, and Bernadette Kelly’s editing is fine. Craig Safan’s score is OK.