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TV REVIEWS : The Toll of a Baby 'Born Too Soon'

April 24, 1993|RAY LOYND

"Born Too Soon" (at 9 p.m. Sunday on NBC, Channels 4, 36 and 39) is the fact-based chronicle of a premature baby's fight to survive and of the agonizing toll the struggle exacts on the parents.

Notwithstanding its tensions and narrow focus, the movie is not depressing. Just don't expect any easy answers in this tangle of fear and hope.

The story is based on the ordeal of Los Angeles Times reporter Elizabeth Mehren and her reporter husband, Fox Butterfield of the New York Times (whom Pamela Reed and Michael Moriarty etch with mounting urgency).

Adapted by scenarist Susan Baskin from Mehren's autobiographical book "Born Too Soon," the movie exposes the strain on a marriage that has everything going for it except how to cope with a baby born three months premature, weighing 1 pound, 11 ounces and whose future is clouded by the likelihood of mental and/or physical impairment.

Frequent close-ups dramatize a combative husband and wife encased in cages of their own psychological making. Not merely a woman's hankie picture, the production balances male-female viewpoints, fires a few emotional rounds at doctors and leaves you, finally, with the image of many Baby Emilys fighting for a life where, as the mother modestly insists, they "can feel the wind and touch the ocean."

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