Original cast members move back into familiar behavior: The good are still stuck with being good, the bad forge ahead. Most reliable characterization is by William Devane as wearying but wily Greg Sumner, now married to snooty Anne (Michelle Phillips), whose purpose seems mostly decorative. But Donna Mills, as lovely, layabout Abby Fairgate, gets to display most of the program’s excesses.
Michele Lee’s put-upon Karen now has to figure out why hubby Mack (Kevin Dobson) is sulky. Ted Shackelford’s bland Gary Ewing, the “Dallas” connection, runs into a surprise daughter. Too, he witnesses wife Val (Joan Van Ark), who’s writing a screenplay autobio with a drunken, amorous scenarist (Michael Woods), getting mixed up in sudden death. Everyone’s children are multiparented, whether they know it or not.
Miniseries, painted in blatant poster colors folks like to watch, and with no intended humor, should work up respectable ratings. Whole thing’s a plot catch-up carried on with appropriate directness by helmer Bill Corcoran. Dialogue’s routine, with an occasional “What?!?” inexplicably called out when a scene’s quiet. John Fleckenstein’s camerawork in a beach scene catches troublesome shadows, James Hulsey’s production design serves its purpose, and Jerrold Immel’s pounding theme extends into the action.
While “Back to the Cul-de-Sac” plays like a travesty, it also plays like a fantasy. Nice place for a quick visit, but nobody really lives there.