'Melrose' star brings trouble to 'Texas'

September 12, 1995|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

Laura Leighton, who plays that little trouble-maker Sydney Andrews on Fox's "Melrose Place," gets what amounts to a two-hour plug for the series and her character tonight.

"In the Name of Love: A Texas Tragedy," a made-for-television movie that airs at 8 on WBFF (Channel 45), gives the character a new name, but she is still trouble.

Leighton's Laurette Wilder is a poor but beautiful Texas woman who has her eyes set on a rich and paralyzed Texas man (Michael Hayden). Heaven help this fella. Wilder lassoes him and brings him down like a fatted calf.

Fox is making a big deal out of the film because it launches the new season for the Fox Tuesday Night Movie. But "In the Name of Love" looks more like something from USA, the cable channel for B-movies. It's steamy, heavy-handed and shot on the cheap. It's set outside of Dallas, but most of the scenes look like they were shot in a cornfield.

Except for the starring roles, the characters are one-dimensional and the performances forgettable -- not that the leads are going to inspire anyone to dedicate their lives to the theater.

Richard Crenna, who has done some fine work in his long career, won't be accused of any such thing for his effort in this film. He plays the wealthy grandfather of Wilder's prey as sort of a J.R. Ewing of the farm. There is more than a tinge of "Dallas"

here, as people in the film, which is said to be "inspired by" some actual events that happened somewhere at some time, seem to be driven exclusively by either greed or lust.

The main attraction is Ms. Leighton, a striking redhead who gets every penny out of her personal trainer's off-screen efforts in this movie. If there is a scene in which she is wearing a piece of clothing that falls below her thighs I missed it. She even plays the wedding scene mostly in underwear.

"In the Name of Love: A Texas Tragedy" seems to be written, directed and sold with just one promise made to viewers: Watch this film and we'll show you how badly some people can behave.

Despite the Texas setting, that would locate it just down the road a piece from Melrose Place.

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