A two-hour episode. Todd Walker abandons the body of Peggy Hatcher, whom he has raped and murdered, in a barn on the property of his grandfather, influential Judge Barton Walker. Lyle Harms, who has dated Peggy earlier, is a suspect because of a previous kidnapping. Todd stalks, kidnaps and finally rapes and kills Chelsea Clark, daughter of Felicia Clark, a dean of students at Sparta College. As the bodies are found, Sheriff Bill Gillespie and Chief Hampton Forbes pursue the serial killer in tandem, following the case to its heartbreaking, tragic conclusion. George C. Scott stars as Judge Walker.Written by
In the Heat of the Night: A Matter of Justice (1994)
*** (out of 4)
Effective made-for-TV movie has a couple college girls found strangled and raped and Sheriff Gillespie (Carroll O'Connor) and Chief Forbes (Carl Weathers) don't have much evidence to work with. The big break in the case happens when a troubled man (Josh Lucas) is picked up after peeking through a window at a woman but the problem is that he's the grandson of a rich, bitter and strong-headed former judge (George C. Scott). I was really surprised to see how well-made and effective this movie was and while there were times that the screenplay went a tad bit too far, the strong performances and gripping story makes it worth sitting through. The strongest aspect of the film are certainly the performances with O'Connor and Weathers doing their typical fine work, which you'd expect since they were members of the television show and were certainly comfortable with their roles by this point. The screenplay doesn't have O'Connor doing too much but there's no question that when he's on screen he adds an extra layer of entertainment. The real strong points happen in the supporting parts with Lucas really shining in his role of the nut-case. I was really impressed with how creepy Lucas was able to make this guy and I thought the actor really got to shine during the scenes where he questions that he did anything wrong to begin with. Karen Carlson is also extremely effective playing one of the girl's mother who is having a hard time coping with the death. Then there's screen legend George C. Scott who has all that fire that we've come to love from him. He puts a lot of passion on the screen and that fire that just pours out of him is extremely strong here. All of the actors work so well together that they have no problem taking the material and getting the most out of it. For the most part the story is pretty strong but I think the big twist at the end really didn't close the story very well. The problem of the murders is just given another problem that isn't solved. I won't ruin or spoil anything but I think the final ten-minutes really let the film down no matter how satisfied you are as a viewer as to what happens.
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