×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Two Babies: Switched at Birth

It was in April of 1991 that NBC rolled out a two-night miniseries entitled "Switched at Birth" that dramatized the true story of Kimberly Mays and Arlena Twigg, children who were unwittingly switched in a hospital nursery as infants and raised by the wrong parents for a full decade before the error was detected. The docudrama emerged as one of the year's highest-rated longforms. CBS, reasoning that what worked once should still be good 8-1/2 years later, has fashioned a second tale of maternal mixup, one that plays with noble enough candor.

With:
Sarah Barlow - Melissa Gilbert Linda Wells - Rosanna Arquette James Barlow - David Andrews Darryl - James McCaffrey Judy - Mary Mara Marie - Susan Barnes Bert - Ron Silver Dr. Lee - Lester B. Hanson Dr. Ullman - Peter Lohnes Joseph - Joe Ivy Michael - Bruce Burkhartsmeier

It was in April of 1991 that NBC rolled out a two-night miniseries entitled “Switched at Birth” that dramatized the true story of Kimberly Mays and Arlena Twigg, children who were unwittingly switched in a hospital nursery as infants and raised by the wrong parents for a full decade before the error was detected. The docudrama emerged as one of the year’s highest-rated longforms. CBS, reasoning that what worked once should still be good 8-1/2 years later, has fashioned a second tale of maternal mixup, one that plays with noble enough candor.

Film stars Melissa Gilbert and Rosanna Arquette as new mothers Gail Barlow and Linda Wells, respectively. These women could not possibly be less alike. Gail is upper middle-class, pampered, rigid and married to the very essence of white-collar manhood itself in husband James (David Andrews). Linda is by contrast single, destitute, earthy and free-spirited.

Somehow, the hospital screws up their babies’ name tags, and the women wind up taking home one another’s sons. It is only when Linda’s n’er-do-well sometime boyfriend Darryl (James McCaffrey) openly disputes his being the kid’s daddy that the unconscionable flub is exposed via a DNA test. Seems both Linda and Darryl carry a 99% probability of not being the natural parent of son Luke.

Linda warns Gail and James to get tested themselves to gauge their own biological likelihood of being mom and dad to their son, Morgan, and what predictably follows leaves everyone devastated. Still, no one really knows quite what to do, given that their sons are now about 18 months old and fully bonded to their parents.

This is where “Two Babies” strikes its most resonant chords in the complex, heavy-duty teleplay from Alan Hines and co-executive producers Arlene Sarner and Jerry Leitchling.

The Barlows and Linda experience a realistic feeling-out process, going from wary to tentative to downright trusting. And no one pretends to have the situation figured out.

The third acts turns when medical trauma befalls one of the boys. Then the opportunistic Darryl, smelling a sweet financial settlement, comes back from nowhere to claim his father role anew and sending the movie into crisis overdrive as helmer Douglas Barr struggles to recover a balanced pace and style.

Regrettably, pic surrenders to stereotype and platitudes through the final half-hour, cheapening a story that had something more profound to say about love and connecting sometimes meaning more than biology when it comes to that elusive “best interests of the child.”

Both Gilbert and Arquette acquit themselves well in fairly demanding roles, with Arquette in particular allowing a surprising vulnerability to peek through. The underrated Andrews, too, supplies consistently fine support. And to the credit of the writers, at least “Two Babies” avoids two typical traps of these kinds of films: It neither demonizes the media nor bogs the proceedings down in legal ministrations. Amen.

Tech credits are sharp in every area.

Two Babies: Switched at Birth

CBS; Wed. Nov. 24, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Portland, Ore., by Alexander/Enright and Associates. Executive producers, Les Alexander, Don Enright; co-executive producers, Arlene Sarner, Jerry Leitchling; producer, Robert J. Wilson; director, Douglas Barr; writers, Alan Hines, Sarner, Leitchling

Crew: Camera, James Bartle; production designer, Sean Mannion; editor, Raul Davalos; music, Stewart Levin; sound, Doug Tourtelot; casting, Lisa Mionie, Eileen Stringer. Running time: 120 MIN.

Cast: Sarah Barlow - Melissa Gilbert Linda Wells - Rosanna Arquette James Barlow - David Andrews Darryl - James McCaffrey Judy - Mary Mara Marie - Susan Barnes Bert - Ron Silver Dr. Lee - Lester B. Hanson Dr. Ullman - Peter Lohnes Joseph - Joe Ivy Michael - Bruce Burkhartsmeier

More TV

  • CENTRAL PARK FIVE

    Netflix and Ava DuVernay Sued by Police Interrogation Firm

    The company behind a controversial police interrogation technique filed a federal lawsuit on Monday against Netflix and director Ava DuVernay, claiming that it was defamed in DuVernay’s miniseries on the Central Park jogger case. John E. Reid and Associates developed the Reid Technique in the late 1940s, and it has continued to offer training materials [...]

  • Noah Oppenheim

    NBCU Has Likely Succession Plan Set at NBC News

    NBC News President Noah Oppenheim has been battling Ronan Farrow in recent and disturbing headlines, but the executive remains the most likely candidate to succeed NBC News and MSNBC Chairman Andy Lack, according to people familiar with the matter. Lack, who has seen NBC News through one of its most tumultuous eras, has a contract [...]

  • Succession Season 2 Roman Gerri

    How 'Succession' Turned Rich-People Problems Into TV's Most Satisfying Drama (Column)

    It was only as the credits rolled on the Season 2 finale of “Succession” that I realized I was standing. At some point during the exhilarating final scene, I’d apparently leapt to my feet, radiating with the thrill of watching the last meticulously placed domino fall. It was startling to understand just how invested I’d [...]

  • '100% Wolf - Legend of the

    '100% Wolf - Legend of the Moonstone' Leads Most Viewed Show at MipJunior

    Animated series “100% Wolf – Legend of the Moonstone” from Germany’s Studio100 Media topped the poll of most-watched shows at MipJunior, the children’s content market in Cannes, which wrapped Sunday. The series follows the adventures of Freddy Lupin, a young werewolf who has been accidentally turned into a poodle, but is determined to prove he’s [...]

  • jay-wallace-fox-news

    'News Stars' Will Fill Shepard Smith's Slot, Says Fox News President (EXCLUSIVE)

    Shepard Smith has left the Fox News building, but his hour will remain staffed by employees from the network’ news division. Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, Shannon Bream, Martha MacCallum, Bill Hemmer and John Roberts are among the Fox News Channel news anchors who will do a stint in the 3 p.m. hour vacated [...]

  • craig-ferguson-join-or-die

    Craig Ferguson Game Show 'The Hustler' Gets Picked Up by ABC

    Comedian and host Craig Ferguson is returning to the airwaves with a new trivia game show series at ABC, “The Hustler,” in which one player will already secretly know all the answers. The format involves five contestants working together on a series of trivia questions, with the aim of growing and winning a collective prize [...]

  • Patrick Dempsey poses with his 'Excellence

    Patrick Dempsey, Alessandro Borghi Discuss Being Part of 'Devils'

    Patrick Dempsey (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Italian actor Alessandro Borghi (“Suburra”), who co-star in the anticipated financial-world thriller series “Devils,” said the show pulled them into uncharted territories. A sign that the TV drama business is becoming increasingly global, “Devils” marks the first truly international drama for both actors. Although it shot in English, “Devils” was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content