TV sequel to 1983 drama about missing child Adam

Adam: His Song Continues NBC, Monday, 9-11 p.m. Stars Daniel J. Travanti, JoBeth Williams, Richard Masur, and Martha Scott. Teleplay by Oliver Hailet. Directed by Robert Markowitz. Produced by Linda Otto. This is the story of a magnificent obsession -- inspired, paradoxically, by tragedy.

In 1983, NBC telecast ``Adam,'' a fact-based drama about the 1981 abduction of Adam Walsh and the attempts of his parents, John and Reve Walsh, to convince authorities to make an all-out search for the boy, who, it turned out, had been murdered. Both Daniel J. Travanti and JoBeth Williams, who portrayed the parents, received Emmy nominations.

This dramatic sequel details the struggle of the Walshes to come to terms with their son's fate, and their subsequent full-time work as child advocates, battling a bureaucracy that too often disregards the rights of children. It shows how the harrowing work crowded out Mr. Walsh's normal family life for a time.

No aspect of the story is left untouched, from the objections that arose over the use of milk cartons to publicize missing children because the youngsters who saw them might be frightened, to crank phone calls. Most disturbing is the vindictiveness of the father toward his son's murderer.

``Adam: His Song Continues'' borders now and then on exploitation, since most of the story has already been told in the original film and in subsequent news stories. But by dint of expert script and direction, as well as superb performances, it manages to avoid the trap of self-conscious pathos or self-serving bathos.

At the end of the original drama, photos and names of missing children were aired, and it is believed that this resulted in the recovery of more than 100 missing children. At the end of this new program, Reve Walsh gives the names of 50 more missing children and a national telephone hotline number for anybody who has seen one of them. One hopes the device will work again.

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