Sleazy, exploitative and ultimately depressing, CBS' "Murder
in New Hampshire: The Pamela Smart Story" should never have been pumped from the cesspool of network television onto our TV screens.
But this rush-job about the teacher who enticed her student-lover to kill her husband pops up at 9 p.m. tonight. It gives voyeurism a bad name.
Because producers did not obtain story rights from many of those involved, the tele-movie rarely ventures beyond the courtroom testimony in the notorious Smart case, and it never illuminates the basic story that everybody has already heard:
The then-22-year-old teacher had an affair with one of her 15-year-old students. By withholding sex and berating him, she eventually got him to murder her insurance-salesman husband.
There's nothing wrong with lurid true-crime tales. With fine acting and complex construction, such TV productions as last season's "A Killing in a Small Town" and "Love, Lies and Murder" managed to convey suspense and examine the most interesting aspect of so many criminal cases -- motivation.
But in "Murder in New Hampshire," there appears to be no motivation.
Cecelia Pierce, a student who overheard several plotting sessions and helped police obtain incriminating tapes from Smart, was never charged with a crime.
Instead, she told interviewers, she sold her story for $100,000.
If this movie is the result, the producers paid $99,998.02 too much.