Let's not mince any words here - "Aftermath: A Test of Love" (Sunday, 8 p.m., Ch. 5) is the worst television movie of the season.
Based on the 1974 Hi Fi Shop murders in Ogden, this movie should never have been made. It's pointless, exploitative, poorly made and in extremely poor taste.The plot is loosely built around the experiences of the Naisbitt family: Carol, who was killed; Cortney, who survived with permanent disabilities; Byron, Carol's husband and Cortney's father; and other family members.
But those names have been changed. Richard Chamberlain (who's never been worse) portrays Dr. Ross Colburn, a cold fish of an obstetrician whose wife (Michael Learned) and son (Denis Heames) are among the victims. Distant and unemotional, Ross forces his remaining children to practice the same bizarre self-control.
The message here seems to be, "Keep up appearances - don't let anyone see your true emotions and everything will be fine." This in the face of a terrible, grotesque tragedy.
Ross' reactions are not only unrealistic but are, in their own way, as warped as the killings.
CBS would have us believe that this is a movie about the victims of violent crime that does not dwell on the actual killings. But more than enough time is spent showing the victims being forced to drink drain cleaner and shot in the head. We're spared seeing a pen kicked in anyone's ear, but that's about it.
Not content to stop here, the action then moves to the hospital where we're shown a bloodied and burned victim. Don't let young kids near the TV during this.
It's also a bizarre mix of fact and fiction - the real names of the killers are used and there's reference to Hill Air Force Base, but there's no reference to Ogden or Utah. (And it quite obviously wasn't shot here.)
There's also a contrived "happy ending" that negates any supposed message about the suffering of victims.
CBS and the producers should be ashamed of themselves for this exploitative mess.