It is 10 years after World War II. In an affluent Connecticut suburb, xenophobia festers when a Japanese girl, disfigured in the Hiroshima bombing and brought to the United States for reconstructive surgery, comes to stay with an American family.
In "Hiroshima Maiden," tonight's "Wonderworks" offering (7 p.m. on Channels 28 and 50, 8 p.m. on Channel 15), Johnny, the older son in the family, is caught between his own growing compassion for the girl and his friends' hostility toward her.
Kenneth Cavander's teleplay, directed by Joan Darling, is an unsteady mixture of tender subtleties and the obvious. At times, it seems to patronize young viewers with cartoon logic--Johnny's friends exist as a sort of Greek chorus, appearing now and then to snarl racial epithets and to label the girl, Miyeko, a spy. Dad (Richard Masur) is a caricature liberal, pipe in hand, heart on sleeve.
But Susan Blakely, as Mom, conveys understanding without words--she's not on screen enough--and Stephen Dorff's Johnny has depth, making his growth and his willingness to defy his peers believable.