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Weekend Tv/reviews : Diverse Dramas: Gold, Doctors And Baseball

May 23, 1987|BILL STEIGERWALD

Drama needs bad guys, and doctors have often been just what the scriptwriter ordered.

But in "Baby Girl Scott," a CBS movie Sunday at 9 p.m. about the moral and emotional hell a couple goes through after their baby is born three months premature, the whole medical establishment is made of 98% evil cardboard.

The doctors on staff at what could be Frankenstein General Hospital are cold, unfeeling, God-playing creeps. Led by Dr. Radburn (Robert Desiderio), they act like mad scientists in their all-out, damn-the-human-consequences effort to prolong the life of Neil and Wendy Scott's 1-pound, 4-ounce baby.

The infant needs a respirator to keep her breathing, but the respirator causes permanent damage to her brain. After great heartache, guilt, frustration and anger, the Scotts (John Lithgow and Mary Beth Hurt) finally decide it would be more merciful to let their baby die.

They no longer want her treated as a modern medical experiment kept alive so cruelly and painfully and with so little apparent concern for her severely handicapped future or for the parents who'll have to care for her. But the Scotts discover they have no choice: They've signed consent forms that give the hospital the ultimate say regarding medical treatment.

Lithgow's and Hurt's acting is excellent throughout "Baby Girl Scott," which was directed by John Korty and also stars Linda Kelsey. There are several genuinely heartbreaking and powerful scenes as their ordeal is played out in all its nightmarish moral, legal and ethical complexity.

But great acting and a serious issue can't compensate for a script that so relentlessly stacks the whole world against the Scotts, surrounds them with insensitive jerks and ends so implausibly.

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