In the colorless romantic comedy "For Love or Money," a CBS movie at 9 tonight on Channel 9, the producer of a failed game show pilot moans that "the network was anesthetized" by it. This is a case, or very nearly one, of the sodium pentothal calling the Novocain anesthetic.
Suzanne Pleshette and Gil ("Buck Rogers") Gerard are the couple who agree to appear on a revised version of that game show, one that has strangers meeting, graduating through such stages as "nodding acquaintances" and "casual friends" and proceeding all the way to "Commitment," at which point they can either share a million-dollar prize and agree never to see each other again, or turn down the money and admit they've fallen in love.
In the script by James Henerson, not nearly enough amusing things occur along the way to a conclusion that everybody with a decent television memory knows is inevitable. Gerard's character is outwardly a Bible-reading milquetoast, but secretly a compulsive gambler who owes $47,500 to Ray Walston as a Las Vegas gangster. We're supposed to find his lying cute. Pleshette is an idealistic scientist who is trying to prove that altruism exists among the lower animals and therefore among the upper. She looks like she couldn't care less, which is one small step for her.
Both characterize themselves as "AFR," which stands for "Available for Relationship." But Henerson's topical asides on the state of contemporary romance pretty much end there. He has nothing bright or tangy to say. And while it looks as though the TV business will be merrily flogged and scourged as it so richly deserves to be, Henerson shrinks from this challenge as well. It's true that TV is the medium of the small gesture and the low key, but here the gestures are so small they can barely be perceived as movement.
Terry Hughes, the director, added nothing. Robert Papazian, the producer, hasn't exactly maintained the pace he set with "The Day After." Pleshette doesn't waltz through the part; she tiptoes in ducky slippers. And Gerard proves again that he made a wrong turn when he chose to become an actor instead of what he is obviously cut out for, anchorman of the 6 o'clock news in Phoenix. No offense to Phoenix.