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TV Review : Judiciary on Trial in TNT's 'Broken Trust'

August 05, 1995|RAY LOYND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"Broken Trust," an original movie on TNT, is a sodden drama about a morally equivocal hero, corrupt judges, callow lawyers and an array of unsympathetic characters.

Although Tom Selleck may appear a surprising choice to play a noble judge seriously compromised by his idealistic involvement in a federal sting to expose judicial bribery, Selleck is credible enough, even in black robes.

The trouble is the dour, murky script by the respected Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, of all people, and director Geoffrey Sax's insistence on playing everything as if it were "As the World Turns."

Typical is a stiff, dry romance between Selleck and federal operative Elizabeth McGovern, which plunges sexual chemistry to a record chill. Nagging annoyances abound, such as a cliched street-jive drug dealer who seems to come out of another movie and the cartoonish glare of the Justice Department's sting boss, William Atherton, as he maniacally glares into his computer. The Justice Department, by implication, is slime.

In relief, the production is sleek and handsome. And one performance commands attention for its sheer hyperactive unpredictability. That's Marsha Mason, barely recognizable as a lusting, unhappy presiding judge who acts as if every night were New Year's Eve.

Adapted from the novel "Court of Honor" by a former district attorney, William P. Wood, the production aims to explore abuse of power and a hero who is, in fact, too full of himself and his mantle of dignity and family image to realize that he's closer to the scum around him than he realizes. In sum: a good idea gone awry.

* "Broken Trust" airs Sunday at 5, 7 and 9 p.m. on TNT.

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