She Stood Alone: The Tailhook Scandal

Genre: Crime; Lead Performer: Gail O'Grady; Broadcaster: ABC

Gail O’Grady — Miss Abandando from NYPD Blue — gives a fine, measured performance in She Stood Alone: the Tailhook Scandal, a made-for-TV movie that is otherwise a waste of time. Based on the highly publicized 1991 sexual assault on a Navy admiral’s aide during a Vegas convention, Tailhook was doomed to fail. Network standards won’t permit us to see what actually happened to Lieut. Paula Coughlin (O’Grady) in all its nastiness as she was made to run a ”gauntlet” of sailors and officers, so the true nature of the crime is barely suggested. We’re told that once she filed a complaint and sparked an investigation, she was shunned by many of her colleagues. But the way Suzette Couture’s script conveys this is to pile on dialogue full of clichés: ”Women are here to stay”; ”I never asked to be treated differently”; ”That’s what happens to whistle-blowers.” Rip Torn, who plays Coughlin’s superior, doesn’t say anything that conveys his ambivalence as eloquently as one of his patented skeptical eyebrow-raisings. Tailhook turns Coughlin’s heroic fight against institutionalized sexism into nothing more than a generic little-person-fighting-the-System fairy tale. C-

Originally posted May 19 1995 — 12:00 AM EDT

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