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TV Reviews : Limited Thrills in 'Mortal Fear'

November 19, 1994|RAY LOYND

As a medical thriller, "Mortal Fear" is about as entertaining as a clogged artery.

The movie, adapted from Robin Cook's novel about the perils of gene-tampering, expires in the first half hour from a lack of narrative oxygen.

The rest of the production, starring Joanna Kearns as a tireless physician tracking down mysterious deaths in a Boston hospital, is claustrophobic. When the plot gets murky, director Larry Shaw (from a scenario by Rob Gilmer and Roger Young) tends to rely on unnerving close-ups of needle injections.

But at least the thematic aspirations are current: managed health care, of all things, and genetic engineering (in this case, an age reversal gene that unfortunately only ages).

The movie foolishly tries to enliven events with a romance between Kearns and the hospital administrator (Gregory Harrison) that's devoid of chemistry, a subplot about a forlorn stripper (Katherine LaNasa) and weird moments with a cheerful coroner (Rebecca Schull).--R.L.

* "Mortal Fear" airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on NBC (Channels 4, 36 and 39).

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