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WEEKEND TV/REVIEWS

A Rash Of Trash In 'Roses' On Cbs

May 16, 1987|HOWARD ROSENBERG

"I don't make love, I make money," coos Autumn McAvan Norton, who is not only a snit and a hussy, but a liar. Two marriages later, she is Autumn McAvan Norton Corbett Osborne.

Trash doesn't get much better than "Roses Are for the Rich," the two-part CBS drama airing at 9 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday on Channels 2 and 8.

For one thing, it establishes Lisa Hartman as the season's foremost tart and scheming vixen, the tramping, chest-heaving, predatory feline who conquers and destroys powerful men merely by looking like a dime-store clerk. Simply amazing.

For another, this stock story about a poor girl who claws her way to the top and gains revenge on her enemies is crowded with exquisitely greedy, shallow, sex-driven, illogical, undeveloped, laughable characters.

In other words, it's perfect.

Judith Paige Mitchell's script opens with the mysterious death of Appalachian coal-mining mogul Douglas Osborne (Bruce Dern). Then Osborne's reading of his own will via videotape is disrupted by the arrest of his widow, Autumn, for his murder.

Now flash back 18 years to Autumn as little girl mired in poor white trashdom. Now flash forward six years as Autumn's life is beset by tragedy related to Osborne's mine. Hatching a plan to destroy Osborne, she moves to San Francisco where--only two years out of Appalachia--she becomes partners in a bar, a department store executive, a stock manipulator and worldly doll manufacturer, crushing everyone in her path. Everyone, do you hear, EVERYONE!!!

That's pretty much the plot, except for the time Autumn spends trampling on that grinning blob Everett Corbett (Richard Masur) and spinning in the sack with Lloyd Murphy (Joe Penny). Autumn to Lloyd: "I never meant for you to open my heart, Murphy, but you did. Now I have to do what it (her heart, apparently) tells me to." Well, that is nothing compared with the scene where Autumn sells Lloyd back to his wife (Kate Mulgrew) for $1 million.

The story drags gloriously on and on to an appropriately mindless conclusion, when you finally learn just how Autumn got hooked up with Osborne and whether she murdered the big snot. What you never learn is why Osborne wears his camel's-hair coat over his shoulders instead of putting his arms through the holes. Maybe that's the custom of Appalachian moguls.

If there is anyone who sticks out here it's Betty Buckley as Autumn's friend, Ella, the local madam. Her good performance is totally out of place and she should be admonished for it.

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