Ken Tucker
March 09, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

A Casualty of War

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
David Threlfall, Clarke Peters, Shelley Hack
Tom Clegg
USA Network
Thriller, ActionAdventure

We gave it a D

Hmmm, let’s see: a two-hour, made-for-cable TV movie about spies, Libya, and the IRA, starring Shelley Hack, based on a story by Frederick Forsyth. Boy, I’ll bet Dennis Potter is quaking in his boots over the odds that A Casualty of War is great, groundbreaking television, eh?

Veteran hack novelist Forsyth presides as host over this third USA Network adaptation of his fiction, and this time around, I finally figured out what Forsyth accomplishes: His introductions are so ponderous and addled that they lead the innocent viewer to think the story that follows will be tricky and intricate.

In fact, A Casualty of War is like a throwaway script from, say, MacGyver. Tom (David Threlfall), an ex-secret agent who now writes spy thrillers , is enlisted to intercept a Libyan arms shipment on its way to the Irish Republican Army. While intercepting, our Tom falls for Shelley Hack, a buyer of racehorses who may not be what she seems….

It’s all the worst sort of tripe. Hack gets to say lines like ”You’re such a nice man, Tom.” Threlfall gets to wear a double-breasted blue- and black-checked jacket that looks like a refrigerator box covered with fabric. As if this weren’t distracting enough, Threlfall looks uncannily like Monty Python‘s Eric Idle. I kept waiting for John Cleese to storm into the middle of a scene yelling, ”All right, all right! That’s it! Stop this nonsense right now!” Alas, it never happened. D

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