Joyce Heft Brotman’s script begins with sight of Annie plunging to her death, then nearly immediately flashes back to story leading to that point an hour later, when mom tries to pressure police into reopening the investigation.
The first half is pretty dreary stuff, made even less palatable by Annie being an unappealing, petulant juvenile.
There’s little foreshadowing of what’s to come (other than that first scene, of course) until well into the hour, when Helen tells a telephone caller that Annie isn’t home — which she is — as ominous music plays.
Vast bulk of what clearly was suspicious conduct doesn’t materialize until after Annie’s funeral, when it’s discovered that the child has a $ 100,000 insurance policy, with Helen as beneficiary. About that time, Seattle police detective Steve McAdams (Weitz) steps into the clues closet.
Everybody except McKellar underplays under Noel Nosseck’s direction, in this case an unwise move. A little of Ruttan acting as Harriet Nelson would have been enough to set the scene; more of her dark side revealed earlier would have helped drag the audience along. Lipton is simply wasted, though her performance is certainly competent.
Rising above this is Weitz, nicely cleaned up from his “Hill Street Blues” persona and eminently watchable as a character it would be nice to see again in more challenging situations.