"To My Daughter" is one of those made-for-TV movies that cheats in the most maddening way. The film, which airs at 9 tonight on WMAR-TV (Channel 2), is good enough to make viewers care about its characters. But down the stretch, it bails out for empty solutions and easy emotions. It loses its nerve. And it is going to leave many viewers feeling they have been toyed with.
Rue McClanahan plays Laura Carlston, a high school English teacher who has been living vicariously through her daughter, Julie (Michele Greene), a successful Hollywood screen writer. The relationship between these two is so close it leaves Laura's other children, Bobby (Ty Miller) and Ann (Samantha Mathis), feeling estranged.
Julie dies unexpectedly. But even in death, Laura can't give up the obsessive relationship. She retreats so far into her dead daughter's life that any chance of a relationship with her two living children is nearly lost. The last half of the film details Laura's battle to finish a book Julie had started and rediscover Bobby and Ann.