Programs like "Deceptions," the NBC Sunday and Monday night movies at 9 on Channel 4, are dangerous. They are dangerous because people who watch them run the risk of losing all hope.
If even those empowered with the responsibility for producing worthless trash can't come up with something better than this, a troubled viewer might wonder, well then, what's the use? Perchance the only recourse is just to hang it up. "Deceptions," and those of its motley ilk, threaten to sap us all of that most precious of life's delusions -- the will to continue.
The brutally tedious four-hour movie plays the old identical-twin switcheroo. Twin Sabrina, a madcap European sprite, played by a supercilious Stefanie Powers, is getting bored with those champagne receptions and yacht-deck disco parties. Twin Stephanie, played by a super silly Stefanie Powers, is having marital problems with hubby Barry Bostwick. He's always bringing home these Soviet genetic engineers for dinner at the last minute and his students disrobe for him in class to get better grades.
So the twins decide to change places. This is the premise for the film, as was made clear in all those panting network promos for it, but it isn't set up until the second hour of the movie. It could have been established in about 10 minutes but nooooooo, they had to stretch this bunk out for four unmerciful hours. The film opens with one of the twins getting all blowed up and asks us to wait around to figure out which one it was.
Hollywood vet Melville Shavelson wrote the script, and you can bet it's a lot less Melville than it is Shavelson, and he codirected (always a telltale sign of production problems) with Robert Chenault. To call them inept would be to devalue the word. For a few moments in Part 1, however, the film threatens to meander into an area of interest; the American twin goes to Venice and there are wee peeks at Venetian scenery. But the directors catch themselves. They keep cutting to dumb reaction shots of Powers so as to maintain a level of consistent insufferability.
Of course there is no proof that a worldwide communist conspiracy is to blame for TV programs with the mass enervation capabilities of "Deceptions." Nor, on the other hand, can it be stated unequivocally that Patrick J. Buchanan is behind all of this as part of his campaign to discredit the media. Unfortunately, both of these theories, besides being ridiculous (although the Buchanan one has possibilities), impart too much purposefulness to something slap-happily hapless. No, it isn't awful enough to be good. It's only awful enough to be dreadful.