TV REVIEWS : A Dogged Pursuit of Teens' Killers

Robert Conrad's hair has turned silver but his jaw's as square as ever in "Sworn to Vengeance" (at 9 tonight on CBS, Channels 2 and 8), a movie about a Carson City, Nev., police sergeant who doggedly tracks down the killers of three teen-agers.

The murder of the two girls and a boy is luridly dramatized in the visions of a psychic (Sharon Farrell) who awakens with images of the killings flashing through her mind.

The murders are later replayed more gruesomely in flashback, spurred by the confession of an accomplice. Audiences should be alerted that the depiction of the slayings, although seen in rapid cuts, is terrifying in the bloody sense of the helpless victim and the slashing arm in the "Psycho" shower scene.

Speaking of psychos, the one here is played with a chilling veneer of charm by William McNamara as a punk who gets off on controlling women and biting them fiercely enough to leave marks.

There's a pale, yellow perversity to McNamara's portrayal, and director Peter H. Hunt turns the prison confrontations between Conrad's sergeant and McNamara's maniac into tantalizing tests of psychological warfare.

Scriptwriters David Epstein and John Carlen give Conrad's character some dimension by making him the department loner and the scourge of his fellow officers. But his personal obsession with the murder case--even to the point of leaning over and whispering vengeance into the ear of each of the victims--is never really developed.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World