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January 13, 1985|Howard Rosenberg

"NOT MY KID," Tuesday, 9 p.m. (2) (8)--Put the emphasis on MY .

Frank and Helen Bower have no idea that their 15-year-old daughter, Susan, has been on hard drugs for three years, steals to pay for her habit and has had an abortion. Living the good life in upper-middle-class suburbia, they feel insulated from the grim realities that touch other families.

Then Susan cracks up.

Her arduous rehabilitation at an institution that relies on peer counseling is the crux of this two-hour CBS drama that unsparingly depicts the heartache and anguish of a family devastated by a teen drug problem. Christopher Knopf's script, based on a book that executive producer Beth Polson wrote with Miller Newton, sugarcoats nothing while serving as a parental primer.

Viveka Davis is excellent as Susan, and George Segal and Stockard Channing give nice performances as the soul-searching parents.

"Not My Kid" is the latest in a series of valuable issue movies surfacing on TV with increasing regularity. Unfortunately, the value of "Not My Kid" as a consciousness-raiser exceeds its value as a piece of drama.

Midway through this solemn story, character development takes a back seat to issue development. We learn little about Susan except that she is an angry "druggie" and little about her deeply troubled parents and younger sister except that Susan's problem has become their problem.

What we do learn about is a method of therapy that, although long and painful, predictably works in Susan's case. It is revealed to us in repetitive testimony from other "druggies" and their parents, which, while socially useful, talks the story into the ground.

More important, "Not My Kid" asks the critical question: Why my family? And it provides the critical answer.

Why not?

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