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Melanie Darrow Reviews

This failed pilot for a series about a lady lawyer is so old hat, it could have been conceived as a spin-off from "Perry Mason." While one is used to second-hand dramaturgy in TV Land, even the laziest legal eagles will anticipate every plot twist here. Filthy rich Felicia Abbott Kramer (Laura Press) quarrels in a restaurant with her younger, financially dependent husband Alex Kramer (Bruce Abbott). That evening Felicia 's mansion is burglarized and she is murdered in a manner that points to Alex's involvement. But ace attorney Melanie Darrow (Delta Burke), godmother to Felicia's teenaged son David (Shawn Ashmore), smells a frame-up by one of Felicia's other greedy heirs. But the open-and-shut case pits Melanie against her brother, Detective Lou Darrow (Brian Bloom), who refuses to investigate Felicia's alcoholic sister Diane (Wendel Meldrum), her gambling addict brothers Carl (David Sutcliffe) and Rick (David Orth), or her older sibling Arthur (Jonathan Banks), who will stop at nothing to gain control of Felicia's money. Convinced of his incarcerated stepfather's innocence, troubled David halfheartedly attempts suicide; Uncle Arthur, his guardian, seizes the opportunity to institutionalize David. When Harper (Bill MacDonald), the hitman whom Arthur hired to eliminate Felicia, visits a fence known to Melanie; she tips off Lou, who leans on Harper's girlfriend, Claire (Krista Bridges) to find out Harper's whereabouts. Melanie probes into Arthur's portfolios and Diane's relationship with a mobster named Windsor (Eric Murphy) who covets Abbott Enterprises. After several scuffles with Lou, Harper is killed in a car chase. Despite Arthur's orders to keep David over-medicated, the importunate teenager phones Melanie pleading for her help. Helicoptering to the roof of Abbott enterprises, Melanie prevents Uncle Arthur from persuading doped-up David to kill himself. Freed, Alex assumes parental responsibility for stepson David. Failing to divert suspicion from guilty Uncle Arthur, MELANIE DARROW treats its audience like crime-solving neophytes. It tips its hand by showing Arthur's role in having David institutionalized; a murder mystery cannot allow the viewer to be steps ahead of the sleuth. Another egregious error is the tongue-in-cheek tone that marks the perpetual one- upmanship between siblings Melanie and Lou Darrow; it's both counterproductive and unprofessional. Meant to be entertaining, this patter is stale, particularly given Burke's self-infatuated delivery. Aside from Shawn Ashmore, the talented young actor who plays David, the cast members merely strike weary poses as the uninspired dialogue dribbles from their lips. Lacking any chemistry between Burke and her entourage of second bananas and suspects, MELANIE DARROW is a poor imitation of many other, better lawyer shows. (Adult situations, violence.)