Ken Tucker
October 12, 1990 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In Defense of a Married Man

type
TV Show
Current Status
In Season
run date
10/14/90
performer
Judith Light, Michael Ontkean, Jerry Orbach
broadcaster
ABC
genre
Crime, Drama

We gave it a B+

In Defense of a Married Man is a satisfyingly soapy little TV movie: Judith Light (Who’s the Boss?) plays a tough lawyer whose husband, played by Twin Peaks‘ Michael Ontkean, is cheating on her with Cynthia Sikes (St. Elsewhere). When Sikes is murdered, Ontkean becomes the chief suspect. Light is mighty steamed at hubby (”I’d like to cut out your heart and toss it in the river!”), but she decides to defend him in court — because she thinks he’s innocent, and because she thinks his first lawyer is a hack.

The result is a pleasingly intense story in which Light does a terrific job of portraying her character’s ambivalence toward her client-husband. Ontkean is convincing as the moody little weasel, and there’s strong acting support from Jerry Orbach as Light’s private investigator and Pat Corley (Murphy Brown) as a grumpy cop.

One reservation: I kept thinking, why is the bleating saxophone music on the soundtrack so loud and intrusive? Then I looked at the network’s press release: Married Man features, ”for the first time in a television movie, the improvised solos of jazz great Stan Getz.” Maybe it’s because I’m an Ornette Coleman fan, but this lugubrious goop was awfully annoying. B+

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