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TV REVIEWS : Boozing Plays Role in 'Final Appeal'

September 25, 1993|RAY LOYND

For the second time in this young television season (following the opening episodes of "The John Larroquette Show"), boozing and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings influence a key plot development, this time in the suspenseful murder thriller "Final Appeal" (at 9 p.m. Sunday on NBC, Channels 4, 36 and 39).

A hard-drinking, disbarred lawyer compelled to represent his younger sister (JoBeth Williams) after she guns down her husband and his mistress in her driveway, Brian Dennehy's loyal sibling is an interesting portrait--not of a falling-down drunk but of a guy who quietly, almost invisibly, tipples his way through the day.

The booze's role in the drama, without ever descending to the preachy or didactic, subtly propels the outer story of conflicting husband-wife accusations, domestic murder and ultimate courtroom revelations.

Prilip Rosenberg's script, directed by Eric Till, deftly keeps you off guard for the first half of the movie with a psychological ping-pong match that alternately casts "Rashomon"-style suspicion on Williams' tense, gun-toting wife and her drug-popping husband (Tom Mason).

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