Slimy 'Pamela Smart Story' never illuminates lurid crime

TV REVIEWS

September 24, 1991|By Jonathan Storm | Jonathan Storm,Knight-Ridder News Sevice

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.

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