Ken Tucker
February 21, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

Fatal Charm

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
Christopher Atkins, Amanda Peterson, Ned Bellamy, Mary Frann, James Remar, Andrew Robinson
Showtime Networks Inc.
Drama, Thriller

We gave it a C-

Valerie, a guileless teenager played by Amanda Peterson (A Year in the Life), starts writing to Adam (The Blue Lagoon‘s Christopher Atkins), a young man imprisoned for raping and murdering six women. Smitten with his blond good looks and equating her own adolescent alienation with his claims of innocence, Valerie wants to believe he didn’t do it. Their correspondence gets hotter and heavier, despite the protests of Valerie’s mom (Newhart‘s Mary Frann), and soon Adam is busting out of jail to pay an unexpected visit on the girl.

Fatal Charm is basically an After-School Special with skin — the one original element in the movie is that it grants its teenage heroine a sexual fantasy life, as Peterson’s character dreams of a tender, erotic relationship with the convicted criminal. The dialogue, by writer Nicholas Niciphor, is believably gauche — ”Why would anyone that gorgeous need to rape someone?” gushes Valerie with blissful teen logic. But the rest of the movie is an overwrought tease, endlessly postponing Valerie’s inevitable meeting with Adam with scenes of banal high school English classes (Valerie is a poet!) and the supposedly hellish life Adam endures in prison (we’re supposed to be appalled when a guy kisses him). Then, too, the stars are polar opposites: Peterson is agonizingly believable no matter how silly the story demands she behave; Atkins, all angry glares, isn’t believable for a second. C-

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