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Robin Thomas Grossman
Based on Sidney Sheldon's novel. A young assistant district attorney (Parker) is used by a ruthless attorney (Morell) to get his client off. She is fired and almost disbarred, but fights back to become a top attorney, torn between two lovers: Morell and a married lawyer with political aspirations (Warner). Written by
Much Watched Mini-Series Fraught With Ups and Downs
Young hayseed lawyer Jennifer Parker (Smith) is drummed out of the New York District Attorney's office mere weeks after hitting town and is nearly disbarred after being set-up and making a mistake only a complete twit would make. She is able to continue to practise only after her legal reputation is all but destroyed.
Clawing her way back to respectability, then to prominence (Even while still making naive mistakes no lawyer with half a brain would make), she becomes romantically involved with erudite, altruistic but nevertheless married politician Adam Warner (Howard) and mafiosi attorney/thug/all-around creep Michael Moretti (Assante). Warner's wife turns it into a love rectangle pushing Jennifer out of the picture.
Further complications arise in the person of a nightmare client (Glover) who is able to escape with her inadvertent assistance only to kidnap her lovechild sired in her trysts with Senator Warner. Whom can she turn to for help? None other than Moretti - a diabolical man to whom one should avoid owing anything.
Dimestore pulp novel piffle featuring an almost brain-dead protagonist! One-dimensional characters in a derivative setting with laughably clunky dialogue and showy, night-time soap opera style scenes this goofy mini-series still proved very appealing to women (And real lawyers who probably laughed their heads off) who saw it in one of the more popular female-themed TV events of the early 1980s. The energetic main cast of this film generally had long, successful careers on TV and the movies and my sense is that they were the main draw.
The narrative presenting Jennifer Parker - the ambulance chasing poster girl for legal malpractice as a feminist heroine serves as a kind of document of North American feminism at a certain stage of its development. The times and circumstances shaped feminism as much as women did moulding it into what it now is.
My guess would be that back when this was made it was enough for women to be active in male-dominated professions and show occasional moxie but not necessarily be very good at them. Jaclyn Smith's interpretation of an accident-prone jurist makes Jennifer Parker appear so spectacularly and completely inept that this narrative could actually be interpreted as anti-feminist. I am in no way exaggerating as anyone who watches this production will see for themselves.
Smith had purportedly passed up on the Lois Chiles role in the Bond film 'Moonraker' which is evidently why she did not return to series television i.e. a belief that she was ready to do features. While she certainly wasn't on the Hollywood A-list she did carry with her a fan-base from having attained international stardom as Kelly Garrett, a beautiful but tough ex-cop turned private detective on the smash hit TV series Charlie's Angels.
Her performance provides the occasional pleasant surprise when her character is called upon to show an edgy kind of spunk she seldom showed in previous roles and never appeared comfortable with before. But it is a performance loaded with low points - including acting of a calibre one might see on a Mexican soap opera. Jaclyn Smith's best and worst is seen here. The screen comes alive whenever she is not on it.
The production team showed saavy in recruiting solid actors at bargain prices. Armand Assante, Kevin Conway, John Glover and Ken Howard are always undervalued. Assante could have had and perhaps should have had the career Sylvester Stallone did if not more of one. Of course the phenomenon of mini-series was not that far below the level of big-budget features at the time this was made.
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