'Shadow' Runs but Can't Hide Faults / Truth is buried too deeply in CBS' take on the real 'Fugitive' tale
Somewhere in this ambitious and occasionally poignant CBS retelling of the true-life story that inspired the long-running "The Fugitive" series and film, there is an illuminating kernel of truth about the behavior of ordinary men and women under enormous pressure.
The story is told, first abruptly but later more softly, through the eyes of Sam Sheppard
's son, using nostalgic, sepia-colored flashbacks. A fine cast includes Peter Strauss as the doctor -- first found guilty and then acquitted of the savage murder of his wife -- as well as Henry Czerny
as his son; Jonathan Kroeker
and Bradley Reid
as the son at various ages; and John Colicos
in a well-judged portrait-in-miniature of the man who might have been the actual killer.
As a journey of self-understanding and, in an odd way, repatriation, "My Father's Shadow" promises much, and it is no wonder the production team paid careful attention to detail.
Whether viewers stick around for the inevitable conclusion, however, may depend on whether they catch the tension between the terrible brutality and the innate sadness that kept Czerny's character from growing up, and whether they respond to the on-screen relationship between Czerny and Strauss. Neither finds a way into their characters until relatively late in the proceedings, perhaps in time with Adam Greenman
's spare script and Peter Levin's cautious direction.
And while, in the process, there may be an important statement about the hysteria that surrounded the trial and the outbreak of public opinion that allegedly contributed to Sheppard's conviction, it is lost in its lack of convincing documentation and the drama's greater interest in telling the stories of the main characters.
-- Laurence Vittes
MY FATHER'S SHADOW: THE Sam Sheppard
Jaffe/Braunstein Films Ltd.
Credits: Executive producers: Michael Jaffe
, Howard Braunstein
, Yvonne Chotzen, William Jenner; Producers: Adam Greenman
, Christine Sacani; Director: Peter Levin; Screenwriter: Adam Greenman; Editor: Stephen Lawrence; Photography: Frank Tidy; Music: Louis Febre; Casting adviser: Lynn Kressel
, Tina Gerussi
. Cast: Peter Strauss, Henry Czerny
, Bradley Reid
, Jonathan Kroeker
, Lindsay Frost
, John Bourgeois, John Colicos
, Janet-Laine Green, Ralph Small
. Airdate: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 9-11 p.m.