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TV Reviews : Jaclyn Smith Turns the Tables in ‘Lies’

“Lies Before Kisses” (at 9 p.m. Sunday on Channels 2 and 8) is an alluring title, hinting at lust, betrayal and destruction. Sure enough, that’s what Jaclyn Smith delivers as her scorn brings ruin not only to her rich husband (Ben Gazzara) but also two other lovers (Nick Mancuso and Greg Evigan).

This production, written by co-producer Ellen Weston and directed by Lou Antonio, opens up like a fairy tale on a horse ranch in Montecito and plunges into an abyss of extortion, murder, cheatin’ hearts and noir L.A. What makes it preposterous is Smith’s character, a woman who has the perfect life and throws it all away.

We’re supposed to believe hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but this is ridiculous. Smith’s wife risks everything--two darling daughters, palatial homes, millions of dollars and a loving husband--because her wealthy publisher of a husband had a one-night stand with this great-looking con artist (played by Lisa Rinna).

Studios used to crank out these melodramas in the ‘30s and ‘40s as B movies. It’s fun to suspend disbelief if you can buy into the premise, but the wife’s sudden sexual dementia, complete with illicit congress with her journalist snoop of an investigator (Mancuso) and her son-in-law (Evigan), doesn’t wash.

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It is nominally bizarre, though, to watch the svelte Smith turn into a character out of a hard-boiled novel. In effect, her serpentine guile is a variation on the alluring Greek goddess Pandora, whose gifts of sex and death were irresistible. But this is casting pearls on a swine. The show’s really a stinker.


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