Dick Van Dyke's Dr. Sloan will cure you of just about anything except boredom

January 03, 1992|By Knight-Ridder News Service

Life is complicated and stressful, which is why we have TV to make us feel smart, and to help us sleep. CBS' "Diagnosis of Murder" is for those who find CBS' "Murder, She Wrote" too subtle. "Diagnosis" takes a basic three-suspect, two-clue "Murder" plot and stretches it out over two hours (Sunday at 9 p.m. on Channel 11), filling in the dead spots with obvious hints and a lot of footage of Dick Van Dyke tap-dancing.

Mr. Van Dyke plays Dr. Mark Sloan, a fatherly internal medicine specialist with the proverbial penchant for sleuthing. When he is not tap-dancing, roller-skating or solving the homicide, Mr. Van Dyke finds time to do the following: save a delinquent with a mitral valve prolapse and teach his prostitute mother a thing or two; outwit a quartet of burly motorcycle gangsters threatening a young woman; reunite a promising resident with his dying Mafia-don father; and start curing a TV star of his addiction to amphetamines.

Hey, he has the time; it's a simple homicide. It involves dummy corporations, steroid injections and a sleazy producer with a lot of jewelry (Ken Kercheval, who always adds a welcome note of degeneracy). Solving it involves a lot of playing dumb (not hard for anybody in this movie) and a predictable bluff.

Surrounding Mr. Van Dyke are the usual suspects: Mariette Hartley as the tough-hospital-administrator-with-a-heart-of-gold, Barry Van Dyke as the doctor's policeman son, Bill Bixby as the friend who's wrongly accused. Does this sound like the cast of a TV pilot? "Dr. Mark Sloan" made his first appearance last season as a guest star on "Jake and the Fatman," so anything's possible.

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