Some people conclude that in its abounding interest in social problems, television has itself become a major social problem. But there are moments. Example: "Taken Away," a dumbly titled but diverting drama about children having children. It airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on Channels 2 and 8.
As tenderly written by Selma Thompson and Robert L. Freedman, sharply directed by John Patterson and thoughtfully executive produced by Carole Hart, Marlo Thomas and Kathie Berlin, the story is about 23-year-old Stephanie (Valerie Bertinelli) grappling with the family service-legal bureaucracy to win back 8-year-old daughter Abby (Juliet Sorcey).
Is she a rotten mom? Didn't she leave Abby unattended in the unkempt apartment while she was out doing Lord-knows-what?
We viewers know that Stephanie's a hard-as-hell working mom and loves Abby incredibly and takes night computer classes to better her lot. We fall in love with their love. So we know that when Abby is hurt in an accident and the cops snatch her away, well, it wasn't mom's fault.
But then, slowly, as Stephanie runs full force into the legal wall, we begin to realize that loving may not be enough, and instilling independence in a child can be dangerous--if you forget she's still a child.
What distinguishes this treatment is that while the mom and daughter roles are compellingly believable, other key roles are richly conceived and nicely played. One strong example is Anna Maria Horsford as the evil-eyed social worker who, we are surprised to realize, is the forceful voice of logic and reason--which we don't always want to hear.