I like peanut butter sandwiches, coffee ice cream, sunsets in Puerto Vallarta, Count Basie, Mozart and you," says James Coburn as oily lawyer Frank Murchison in "Sins of the Father," an NBC movie Sunday night at 9 on Channel 4. The PYT he's trying to impress with a spiel like that is Kevan Headley (Glynis O'Conner), a young lawyer whose juris lacks a certain prudence. She's admitted to the bar, then to the firm and then to Murchison's bed.
There are complications, of course. After about 40 minutes, our heroine falls in love with her boss' son, played by the agreeable Ted Wass, once a notable bubble on "Soap." It turns out the old lawyer is ruthless and venal, his son a diligent save-the-whaler. The more she learns about the son, the less she admires the father.
Unfortunately writer Elizabeth Gill is less interested in the conflict that would arise when the son discovers his father preceded him as the woman's boyfriend than she is in a marginal imagined betrayal over the contents of the lawyer's widow's will. But at least Gill has a theme, not just a plot: how corruption rewards materially while honesty rewards emotionally, and the difficulty of choosing between the two. The dialogue is not bad and director Peter Werner's only digression is a momentary dalliance with a machine that spits tennis balls.
Coburn glistens like cheap jewelry in a role not unlike the one he plays in those MasterCard commercials. O'Conner seems a new combination of cute and taut. Joan Prather, as her pregnant sister Megan, is a sly, smart-alecky delight, and Marion ("Happy Days") Ross, as the mother, gets sexier as she gets older. Someone should offer her a part with teeth, or, better yet, with fangs.
Refreshingly, Murchison turns out to be more than a stock villain and the son less than a flawless pillar. Certainly it's hard to hate an employer who rewards an employe, for whatever reason, not only with a parking space bearing said employe's name, but with a BMW leased for said employe's use. And said car even has a friendly rose tucked into the front window. And said rose -- well, enough said.