Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lethal Vows

Thank goodness we're finally getting a top-tier Lifetime movie. When you hire the big boys like John Ritter and Marg Helgenberger, you know you're getting a quality product.

David Farris has been divorced from Ellen Farris for 14 years. They have two lovely daughters. David and his second wife have a 12-year-old son and everyone gets along just great. One big happy post-nuclear family. David is a physicist working as an adjunct professor and Wife #2, Lorraine, has just won a position on the City Council. There are only two bugs under the lawn. One is Ellen's health. Since the divorce she's had rashes, aches and pains, bruising, and memory loss. Doctors can't seem to figure out what the problem is. The other is David, despite being being divorced for so long, is still a bit too close to Ellen.

Eventually, Lorraine starts coming down with the same problems that Ellen had been having. Since Ellen's new doctor is such a smarty pants, she figures out that it's selenium poisoning. But just before she breaks the news to Davis and Lorraine, her health improves significantly.

Lorraine still drops dead a few weeks later. The autopsy turns up nothing and the body is quickly cremated. In the Lifetime universe, cremation is a tacit confession of murder.

Ellen's women's intuition kicks into high gear. First she bugs the coroner with all sorts of selenium questions. He tells her flat out that if Lorraine was poisoned with selenium, he would have found it. In the real world, that's the end of the movie right there.

But, no. More women's intuition. Ellen discovers an old dismantled radio on her shed and has a flashback. She, 14 years later, remembers Dennis scraping powder off of a radio part and putting it in her shampoo and mascara. That part had selenium in it! Oh no! Dennis is a poisoner! Who woulda thunk it!?

Ellen goes to the police and, for some reason, isn't immediately dismissed as a crazy person. Why? Because as the homicide detective pointed out, Dennis had Lorraine cremated. So suspicious. Well, that and Dennis had already applied for a marriage license to his paramour while Lorraine's ashes were still smoking. Rookie mistake, Dennis. You'd think an accomplished poisoner would have the patience to wait a few months before walking down the aisle.

Dennis tries intimidating Ellen by threatening to reopen their custody agreement. (It's really weird because they both have cell phones, but Dennis and Ellen's way of getting in touch is just running into each other on the street. This is like the fourth time that's happened. Do they just wander around until one of them sees the person they want to yell at? Isn't that time consuming?) Dennis also leaves some salmonella infected tomatoes chicken in Ellen's fridge. The youngest daughter eats it and ends up at the hospital.

A toxicology report on Lorraine shows that she actually died of cyanide poisoning. Dennis can be linked to cyanide through his minority stake in a mine. Apparently, cyanide is used for gold mining. I learned something from a Lifetime movie. Dennis also has a bunch of crazy and vaguely threatening journals on his hard drive. Ellen testifies about her poisoning too.

Dennis is a little bit up Shit Creek. He knows it and wants to testify. His smart lawyer won't let him. What does Dennis do? Poisons him of course! In a legitimately funny scene, they show Dennis looking at his attorney's coffee, turning to look at some cleaning supplies, and then looking at the coffee again. The next scene shows the lawyer collapse. That was awesome.

Finally, we get a scene at Ellen's house. Dennis calls, his oldest daughter picks up the phone, and no one acts like that's at all weird. Well, they should be acting weirded out since it's revealed that Dennis was convicted of first degree murder and has had two if his appeals denied. You'd think that would generate more of a reaction than, "Mommmm, phone!"

In the end credits we find out that Ellen's selenium poisoning was so severe that it gave her leukemia and she died. I love happy endings!


It had twists, melodrama, and it actually made me laugh. Uh, I think I liked this movie. Like, for real? Except for Marg Helgenberger. I hate her.


I just felt the movie could have been a little more hysterical. There was no sobbing, no moral panics, nothing so weird and out of touch that one could only find it amusing.


I love John Ritter. Not because of Three's Company. But because of, and I wish I were making this up, Stay Tuned. I haven't seen it since I was 12. I'm sure it's awful. But I loved that movie growing up. That and IT.

Ellen was played by Marg Helgenberger. She's the female lead on CSI and I hate her. I don't know why, I just do. I guess a bonus point for being in Species. But that's it. The day she retires is a good day.


This is the most Lifetimey movie I've ever seen. Women's intuition saves the day. There's a psychotic ex-husband on the loose. The friendly Assistant District Attorney prosecuting the murder and token nice male is black. It's quite incredible.


A very high score for a very enjoyable movie. I wish John Ritter were still around to play psychotic philandering husbands. Sigh.


Anonymous said...

I just read all your reviews and am exhausted from laughing so much. I'm so glad I found this blog; you're performing a much-needed service to the TV watching world.

Mujer said...

i had no idea you could run a toxicology report on a pile of ashes...Lifetime is more informative than Discovery Health!

Prolix said...

There was a great episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in which John Ritter played a psychotic murderous robot who tried to kidnap her mother. Apparently the man had a gift.

I just saw your blog linked from Jezebel, it's hilarious. Thanks for keeping the Internet informed about important Lifetime movie issues :)

MarioBava said...

Lethal Vows is one of my faves. John Ritter poisons every stinking person in this movie, his wives, his daughter, his lawyer, the cameraman, the director... I also miss Jack Tripper! :-(

mellabellaboo said...

in regards to the earlier comment, they CANT do toxicology tests on ashes, but whenever they do an autopsy on someone, they usually take tissue samples first, and these are often saved, at least for awhile, so when they are cremated, they likely have the tissue samples to fall back on for tests, altho that isnt as good as having the whole body, but it can still helps alot for someone whos trying to escape tests for this kinda thing!

Anonymous said...

I just saw this movie this morning but was washing clothes for about 10 minutes and I think I must have missed WHY he was poisoning his wives... Did he ever give a reason?


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I just saw this movie this morning but was washing clothes for about 10 minutes and I think I must have missed WHY he was poisoning his wives... Did he ever give a reason?

They surmised from his deleted but recovered files on the computer that he thought his second wife was cheating on him with the president of the city council. His first wife was poisoned as he was already involved with soon to be wife number two (including leasing her apartment for her.) Not too bright for a physicist. And his ego....kept correcting everybody when the called him Mr. Farris...."That's Dr. Farris..."

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hilarious review!! I just watched this on Lifetime for the first time today. It was definitely at least half a cut above their usual fare. One critique of your review - midway through your post you changed the husband's name from "David" to "Dennis."

Astermeds Health Blog said...

This is an amazing informative blog post here........ Keep posting such an amazing blog articles.

Anonymous said...

True, he switches from David to Dennis.. but with a middle step of Davis. I just assumed that this was intentional. said...

The writer is totally fair, and there is no question.

danielle said...

this movie is good and it teaches ppl not to marry doctors lol and marg helgenberger is a great actress i love her on csi

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