Ken Tucker
March 22, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Mystery!: Die Kinder

type
TV Show
Current Status
In Season
performer
Miranda Richardson
broadcaster
PBS

We gave it an A

This week, Mystery! begins a six-week story that transcends mere mystery. At the start of Die Kinder — German for The Children — an Englishwoman (Dance With a Stranger‘s Miranda Richardson) goes to pick up her two young children from their London school and discovers that her German ex-husband (Hans Kremer) has kidnapped them and gone back to Germany. He’s an aging radical who has been on the run since the ’60s — he may or may not have taken part in terrorist bombings during that period — and so he knows how to keep the police from finding the children. Richardson employs an American detective played by Frederic Forrest (The Two Jakes, Music Box) to track them down.

The script, by Paula Milne, is deepened by its ’60s subtext. The main reason Richardson hires Forrest, for example, is that the English and German police investigating the kidnapping are more interested in infiltrating Kremer’s left-wing organization, the Red Liberation Army, than they are in locating the children. Richardson says she divorced Kremer because of his political obsessions (”You were in love with a revolutionary but not the revolution, right?” Forrest asks sardonically), but she’s nonetheless shocked at the deep, enduring hatred for the ’60s left that she encounters during her searches.

Richardson is a perfect combination of fear, rage, and confusion. As a flip cynic who claims he learned to despise American radicals when he was a soldier in Vietnam, Forrest adds another dimension to the hard-boiled detective novelist he played in the 1982 film Hammett. Scary, relentless, and thought-provoking, Die Kinder is yet another first-rate Mystery! offering. A

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