As true crime stories go, there can be no question that the case of Anne Marie Fahey was a gripping tabloid tale. She was the scheduling secretary for the governor of Delaware, and her closeness to the halls of power put her disappearance on the front page of newspapers and on national newsmagazines. The case unraveled in the public eye as suspicion quickly fell on Thomas Capano, a notorious political “fixer.” This CBS miniseries telling, based on Ann Rule’s book “And Never Let Her Go,” comes at the complex story from several angles, and does an admirable job of laying out the vast array of facts along with the psychological makeups of the primary players. The result, though, while engaging, comes off as disappointingly generic when this case was anything but.
From the start, this case had it all: A beautiful but troubled victim, a powerful, highly connected suspect and the secret affair between them revealed in Fahey’s posthumously discovered diary. Adam Greenman’s teleplay takes a double track, following the investigation lead by Detective Frank Gugliatta (Paul Michael Glaser) and U.S. Attorney Colm Connolly (Steven Eckholdt), then flashing back to cover the relationship between Fahey (Kathryn Morris) and Capano (Mark Harmon).
Capano, a man used to getting his way, murdered Anne Marie when she insisted on breaking up with him in favor of a new, and far nicer, boyfriend. He then eluded arrest for a painfully long time. This was a man who knew how to get away with murder, and much to the Fahey family’s chagrin it looked for months as if he would. Finally, the authorities put so much pressure on Capano’s brothers that they turned on him. In the end, neither the body nor the murder weapon was ever found, but there was so much evidence against Capano that his constant claims of innocence, and his apparent certainty that he could beat the charges, came across as a larger-than-life example of a man with an outlandishly hubristic sense of self.
Unfortunately, Harmon is simply insufficient as Capano, a part that requires a certain heft. This should be a fascinating study in evil, but Harmon doesn’t communicate his intensity, his charm or his intelligence. From beginning to end, there’s a certain weakness to Harmon’s Capano that makes the character come off as more pathetic and transparent than fearsome, and this gives the strained psychologizing here a particularly simplified air. He’s not much of a foe for the headstrong Connolly or the dogged Gugliatta, and he seems more lacking in personality than overdosing on it. His hold over Fahey and Christine Sheve (Rachel Ward), another mistress who plays a large role in the story, provides the only real mystery at work here.
Straightforward but unsuspenseful, the made-for delivers narrative coherence without much to intrigue or disturb. Director Peter Levin invests the pic with a mournful, respectful tone, particularly the scenes involving Fahey’s family. The Capano family, though, varies between the whiny and the shrill, and their dissolution doesn’t carry any potent tension. It seems strange that this riveting case would result in a miniseries in which the drama feels manufactured.
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