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After Jimmy

Executive producers Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent have assembled a superb cast and crew for this bleak and uncompromising made-for about teen suicide. Viewer discretion is advised due to raw emotionality: It may be too much for anyone who has recently lost a loved one or ever experienced a suicide in the family. By itself, this visceral quality isn't necessarily a badge of honor, but the refusal to peddle a simplistic resolution is admirable and, of course, rare. Producer-director Glenn Jordan ("A Streetcar Named Desire") displays the same realism he brought to the 1995 telepic "My Brother's Keeper," concerning a community's reaction to AIDS. Jordan's proficiency at leading viewers by the nose and immersing them in a family's grief borders on manipulation. In light of the writing and acting, however, this apprehension dissolves. Meredith Baxter and Bruce Davison are excellent as parents of the adored 18-year-old (Peter Facinelli) who takes his own life despite, it would appear from the outside, having everything going for him. Their naturalistic performances are exact and powerful. Judith Fein and Cynthia Saunders can take credit for a lucid and often eloquent teleplay that pulls no punches while remaining sensitive. It's a devastating study of those left behind without answers. Hardest hit is the mother, whose denial threatens to tear the family apart. The only time we have a respite from the pain is when Jordan uses slow pans and crane shots to convey a surface tranquility in the house and neighborhood. The three acts have been carefully conceived and parsed to indicate the family's passage to an early but by no means certain stage of recovery. Jordan nearly goes too far when cutting between the act of suicide itself and the family singing a hymn in church. But overall result is an authentic drama that has secondary effect of highlighting a social epidemic (statistics on the frequency of teen suicide are given in end titles). Balance of cast is up to the task. Eva Marie Saint offers sage advice as the grandmother , and Ryan Slater and Mae Whitman are convincing as younger siblings. Title role calls for glamour and pathos, both of which Facinelli conveys. Secondary perfs are on target, with special mentions to Zeljko Ivanek and Tina Lifford. Solid tech work all around keeps the focus on inaccessible emotional spaces. Ominous score by Patrick Williams helps put viewers through the ringer. John P. McCarthy

With:
Cast: Meredith Baxter, Bruce Davison, Peter Facinelli, Mae Whitman, Ryan Slater, Eva Marie Saint, Natalija Nogulich, Zeljko Ivanek, Tina Lifford, Scott Michael, Raye Birk, Dean Norris, Jeanne Mori, Deborah May, Aaron Lustig, Mitchell Edmonds, Devon Gummersall, Kellen Hathaway, Roxanne Beckford, Dan Eisenstein, Patricia Herd, Roger Rook, Lynn Marie Stewart, Earl Theroux, Susan Ware.

Executive producers Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent have assembled a superb cast and crew for this bleak and uncompromising made-for about teen suicide. Viewer discretion is advised due to raw emotionality: It may be too much for anyone who has recently lost a loved one or ever experienced a suicide in the family. By itself, this visceral quality isn’t necessarily a badge of honor, but the refusal to peddle a simplistic resolution is admirable and, of course, rare. Producer-director Glenn Jordan (“A Streetcar Named Desire”) displays the same realism he brought to the 1995 telepic “My Brother’s Keeper,” concerning a community’s reaction to AIDS. Jordan’s proficiency at leading viewers by the nose and immersing them in a family’s grief borders on manipulation. In light of the writing and acting, however, this apprehension dissolves. Meredith Baxter and Bruce Davison are excellent as parents of the adored 18-year-old (Peter Facinelli) who takes his own life despite, it would appear from the outside, having everything going for him. Their naturalistic performances are exact and powerful. Judith Fein and Cynthia Saunders can take credit for a lucid and often eloquent teleplay that pulls no punches while remaining sensitive. It’s a devastating study of those left behind without answers. Hardest hit is the mother, whose denial threatens to tear the family apart. The only time we have a respite from the pain is when Jordan uses slow pans and crane shots to convey a surface tranquility in the house and neighborhood. The three acts have been carefully conceived and parsed to indicate the family’s passage to an early but by no means certain stage of recovery. Jordan nearly goes too far when cutting between the act of suicide itself and the family singing a hymn in church. But overall result is an authentic drama that has secondary effect of highlighting a social epidemic (statistics on the frequency of teen suicide are given in end titles). Balance of cast is up to the task. Eva Marie Saint offers sage advice as the grandmother , and Ryan Slater and Mae Whitman are convincing as younger siblings. Title role calls for glamour and pathos, both of which Facinelli conveys. Secondary perfs are on target, with special mentions to Zeljko Ivanek and Tina Lifford. Solid tech work all around keeps the focus on inaccessible emotional spaces. Ominous score by Patrick Williams helps put viewers through the ringer. John P. McCarthy

After Jimmy

Tues. (24), 9-11 p.m., CBS

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Holiday Prods. in association with Spelling Television Inc. Executive producers, Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent; producer, Glenn Jordan; co-producer, Robert Rennett Steinhauer; director, Glenn Jordan; writers, Judith Fein, Cynthia Saunders; story by Fein.

Crew: Camera, Neil Roach; editor, David Simmons; art director, Lisa Smithline; sound, Michael C. Moore; music, Patrick Williams; casting, Francine Maisler.

Cast: Cast: Meredith Baxter, Bruce Davison, Peter Facinelli, Mae Whitman, Ryan Slater, Eva Marie Saint, Natalija Nogulich, Zeljko Ivanek, Tina Lifford, Scott Michael, Raye Birk, Dean Norris, Jeanne Mori, Deborah May, Aaron Lustig, Mitchell Edmonds, Devon Gummersall, Kellen Hathaway, Roxanne Beckford, Dan Eisenstein, Patricia Herd, Roger Rook, Lynn Marie Stewart, Earl Theroux, Susan Ware.

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