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TV REVIEW : 'Donato and Daughter' Seeks a Relationship

September 21, 1993|JON MATSUMOTO | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

To its credit, "Donato and Daughter" (at 9 tonight on CBS, Channels 2 and 8) does try to inject some complex human interaction into its standard mystery-thriller format. But, alas, this film is so unconvincing as a relationship movie that you end up wishing it had solely been a thrill-packed whodunit.

After several nuns are brutally raped and murdered, police Lt. Dina Donato (Dana Delany) forms a task force designed to hunt down the wily killer. But matters become tense when her supervisor insists she enlist the help of her police sergeant father, Mike (Charles Bronson).

It seems the relationship between these two headstrong characters has been on the rocks ever since Tommy--yet another cop in the Donato clan--died somewhat mysteriously. Dina suspects her father of hiding the truth behind her brother's death.

The problem with "Donato and Daughter" is that it never exhibits the type of sensitivity or insight necessary to fully convey the inner thoughts and feelings of this uncommunicative pair. A young woman's need for parental approval and a proud man's unwillingness to open up emotionally are never examined with much depth.

"Donato and Daughter" fares a bit better when it concentrates on its mystery-thriller dimension. There are a few too many unlikely turns of events, but at least when Dina and Mike finally zero in on their prime suspect, some adrenaline is pumped into the movie. Xander Berkeley brings the right dose of crazed intelligence to his role of the psychopath.

Unfortunately, Berkeley and the ensuing excitement arrive too late to make "Donato and Daughter" truly worthwhile viewing.

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