Every now and then a reminder comes along that first-rate productions can originate on second-tier channels. Such is the case with “Marathon Love,” a heartwarming story about a relationship of true faith and endurance that a few decades ago surely would have been turned into a made-for-TV movie. As is, LMNO Prods. has distilled Jamie and Lynn Parks’ story into a fine hour that’s a slightly incongruous fit for Discovery Health, a sub-network most notable for its upcoming makeover into the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Drawing from a trove of family video as well as interviews with the principals, the hour rapidly recounts the romance of Chicago mailman Jamie and his wife Lynn, who tragically experienced a devastating car accident a few months before their planned wedding in 1987.
Although her recovery was far from certain, both persevered — Jamie staying by her side, Lynn rebounding enough from a debilitating brain-stem injury and months-long coma to haltingly walk down the aisle on their wedding day. A child, equally improbable, came in 2000.
Jamie, meanwhile, became aggressive about running, but in his reluctance to be separated from Lynn began bringing her along with him, pushing her wheelchair on 5K and 10K races, and eventually marathons. The story builds toward Jamie qualifying for and running in this year’s Boston Marathon — a formidable feat at any age, much less for a man in his 40s towing his wife as cargo.
The producers are savvy enough to recognize a story that doesn’t require much window dressing or bells and whistles — and won’t leave many dry eyes in the living room. In fact, it’s the kind of three-hankie affair that would fit snugly on a Winfrey network, though not quite so much with the more technical programming often featured on Discovery Health.
So while the channel waits for Oprah, “Marathon Love” is a fine way to kill time in the short run.