'False Arrest': better than you'd think

November 01, 1991|By Jonathan Storm | Jonathan Storm,Knight-Ridder News Service

It's the sweetest voice on the best-dressed suspect to turn up in a true-crime TV drama in a long time:

"I have a home and a family," says Donna Mills innocently to police officers. ". . . How can you think that someone like me would be involved in a murder?"

Ms. Mills' character, Joyce Lukezic, is missing the point. The police don't care whether she's involved in a murder or not: They need someone to convict, and she looks like an excellent prospect.

The title takes some of the suspense out of ABC's "False Arrest," which airs in two-hour segments Sunday and Wednesday beginning at 9 each night (Channel 13). It's not

giving away too much more to say that even when poor Joyce is convicted, her troubles have only begun.

"False Arrest" is one of those stories that's so unbelievable it had darn well better be true, and, give or take a character or two, everybody swears that it is.

Ms. Mills co-stars with Robert Wagner and Steven Bauer in the story of Scottsdale suburbanite Ms. Lukezic who was arrested after two people fingered her as the instigator of a plot to kill her husband's business partner. Ms. Lukezic subsequently spent years in Arizona prisons as she battled not only to prove her innocence but simply to stay alive.

Don't dismiss "False Arrest" as just another soapy tear-jerker, or, even worse, a generic women-in-prison potboiler.

Sure, there are women -- big, mean ones -- in the prisons where Lukezic winds up. No question, Ms. Mills' "Knots Landing" credentials -- she played the deceitful Abby Cunningham for nine years -- are as sudsy as anyone's. Granted, the miniseries brims with heavy plucks on your heartstrings.

But there's plenty of suspense. Ms. Mills does a fine job, bringing a certain nobility to her character.

Some of the supporting work is outstanding, especially Mr. Bauer as menacing Dan Ryan, Lewis VanBergen as slimy Arnie Merrill, and Mimi Kuzyk as Nadine, the compassionate inmate.

Look also for big Esther Scott, who sparkles in a tiny role as another friendly prisoner.

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