TV REVIEWS : Rude Awakening in ‘Fatal Memories’
“Fatal Memories” (at 9 tonight on NBC, Channels 4, 36 and 39) dramatizes the ordeal of Eileen Franklin, whose repressed childhood memories nailed her father for a murder he had committed in her presence 20 years earlier.
Shelley Long mirrors the psychological awakening of a wife and mother struggling to unlock her past and muster the courage to accuse her father of killing a childhood girlfriend.
But these scenes and the father’s subsequent 1990 murder trial in Redwood City, which set a legal precedent regarding the admission of repressed memory as evidence, are only fitfully dramatized in what, finally, is a routinely executed TV movie.
That’s primarily because the artsy black-and-white flashback scenes of the terrified little girl and the abusive father she dearly loved, so crucial to the production, are too truncated and jagged. It’s left to Long, in her halting, agonizing descriptions, to catch the horror of childhood molestation and of the murder of her little friend.
She handles the burden OK but events, despite flavorful support from Helen Shaver as the prosecuting attorney and Dean Stockwell as a friendly detective, flag as often as they crackle.
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