The casting is just right: Teri Garr as an increasingly ditsy suburban wife and mom; Robert Urich as the solid, loving husband who watches her fall apart over what she's sure is a murder plot.

But it's the script that's a hoot, thanks to District writer Mark A. Stein and his first-ever movie.

"A Quiet Little Neighborhood, A Perfect Little Murder" (Sunday at 9 on NBC) takes Ross and Marsha Pegler and their infant daughter out to the suburbs. On arriving, they're not even certain which of the look-alike houses is theirs.

They've left the city with intentions never to turn into suburbanites, by which they mean never to buy a barbecue, never to play bridge, never to watch soap operas, never to fritter away the day with the girls, and never to divorce.

Then their new kiddie intercom system picks up strange conversations between people named Don and Judy, who appear to be having an affair and planning the murder of his inconvenient wife.

If the kiddie-com can pick up the conversation, Garr reasons, the people must be close enough to be neighbors. So she sets out to learn who's involved and stop the plot before it's accomplished. Within the next two hours, she'll be out doing door-to-door sales in order to get into her neighbors' homes, running through the neighborhood wearing only a short paper medical gown held together with her husband's tie, and spending hours watching soap operas and listening to the lovers over the clown-faced kiddie-com.

Alex Rocco, who plays the local police detective, is sure she's got a screw loose. Her husband's beginning to think so too. The neighbors, played by Susan Ruttan, Jeffrey Tambor, Florence Stanley, Gail Edwards, Charles Taylor and Tom Poston, aren't certain what to think. But among them, Marsha is convinced, are two who know exactly what she's discovered.

"I liked the script when I originally read it," said Garr. "I thought it was a tightly written script. And I have some friends who live on 11th street in New York who have a cellular phone and it does pick up conversation from their neighbors."

Her own cordless phone picks up stray rings from calls outside her house, she said, but not conversations.

Garr, who lives in Los Angeles -- not its suburbs -- has decided that the suburban lifestyle is "probably something you grow into. After a certain age, I took this incredible interest in my garden. I never cared about it before."

After she'd finished "Quiet Little Neighborhood," Garr said, she received a complimentary note from writer Stein. The movie was the first of his scripts to make to the screen, large or small.

A graduate of Montgomery Blair High School and the University of Wisconsin, Stein spent years "stage-managing little theaters in New York when the off-off-Broadway movement was alive, worked at Vogue magazine, then came here and joined New Playwrights Theater, may it rest in peace. I would probably not have a show on television today were it not for New Playwrights."

A one-act play that Stein had written at New Playwrights premiered in Louisville, then was picked up by an off-Broadway theater. Stein worked as playwright-in-residence at a theater company near Philadelphia and began writing screenplays. Several were bought by Disney's Touchstone Films but not made.

This comedy-mystery was written during the Hollywood writers' strike two years ago, first as a feature film.

"But Universal had just released 'The Burbs,' which failed spectacularly," said Stein, "and my agent said, let's go to television. It was picked up at once by {executive producers} Gary Hoffman and Neil Israel. We knew we needed to put a new ending on it, so we did that. Gary took a red pencil and drew in seven lines for the commercial breaks."

Stein offered some 20 titles, including "The Don and Judy Show" and "She Heard Her Say Murder," and NBC used "Honey, Let's Kill the Neighbors" as a working title before settling on "A Quiet Little Neighborhood, A Perfect Little Murder."

But Stein doesn't mind.

"It's a collaborative art," said Stein, "so you almost never get what you envision. But I thought that the prop they created for the kiddie-com was funnier than my description. There were some scenes in which some of the actors at times brought more to it than just the dialogue.

"But I would have fought to keep Tom Poston's part bigger if I'd known he was going to play it. He's a fine actor."