tap Sunday evening at 9 is something of a skirmish between the network
movie schedules. CBS will offer the network premiere of ''9 to 5''
on Channel 2, featuring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton in
the leading roles. The two other networks are relying on ambitious
television movies. NBC has Dennis Weaver in ''Cocaine: One Man's Seduction''
on Channel 4, an earnest exploration of a drug habit. And ABC will
present Lee Majors in ''Starflight: The Plane That Couldn't Land''
on Channel 7, still another reworking of the escapist adventure stuff
that proved so popular in the film ''Airport.''
a Middle-Aged Man Is Hooked by Cocaine
Eddie has occasionally been offered cocaine but has never been very interested in trying it. At a swank party thrown by his boss, though, he is feeling out of place and uneasy. In the bathroom, he meets Bruce Neumann (David Ackroyd), a loan specialist who snorts the drug openly in front of him. Bruce offers Eddie some. ''Go ahead, everybody needs a boost once in a while,'' Bruce says. ''When you find something that makes life easy, go for it.'' Eddie accepts and returns to the party a new man, bursting with energy and feeling on top of everything.
Later, Bruce will turn Eddie on not only to more cocaine but also to house-purchase leads he gets through his job. Eddie adopts a completely new image for himself. He darkens his gray hair, buys youthful leather jackets, gets a fancy new car. Switching to luxury homes, he finds that his cocaine high puts him into the ''energy flow'' that the customers seem to prefer. But, eventually and inevitably, there are problems.
Some are physical. Eddie begins getting severe sinus attacks, and his nose is increasingly irritated. Others are psychological. He begins having dizzy spells and is becoming dangerously paranoid. He is trapped and refuses to admit it, even when a formerly addicted friend (Jeffrey Tambor) warns him about impending disaster. Eddie's wife (Karen Grassle) is puzzled by his behavior, but Eddie only plunges on.
Written by Barry Schneider from a story he did with David Goldsmith, the producer, this tale is meant to be cautionary. And with a strong performance from Mr. Weaver, under the direction of Paul Wendkos, it scores a good many of its points powerfully. But there are nagging questions. Is a middle-aged person like Eddie the typical user of cocaine? It seems doubtful. Yet younger people are let off the hook when Eddie's son explains how antidrug programs in schools are so effective. That also seems doubtful. Cocaine has been called the rich man's drug, and its use in certain circles of the Los Angeles show-business community has been notorious. But perhaps that is another story, and one that television would be less eager to tackle."
© by John J. O'Connor for The New York Times, 25.02.1983 (Thank you, Susan!)