Nora Roberts' Blue Smoke



9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12

The first-rate production values at work in "Blue Smoke," the latest small screen adaptation of a popular Nora Roberts novel, don't quite hide the obvious: a storyline that moves like a somnambulist and a script that successfully covers every cliche ever uttered in a romance novel.

The visuals are fine in this Lifetime telefilm but viewers will find the characters and predicaments to be strictly-by-the-book types.

Alicia Witt plays a young arson investigator who saw her family's pizzaria go up in smoke when she was a child. She has been hunting arsonists ever since, and now discovers that an arsonist is hunting her and trying to do away with all the men she loves.

If it sounds trite, it is -- not to mention contrived. Neither Roberts' story, Ronni Kern's teleplay nor David Carson's direction hide that fact or even try. Pretty to watch (it's all that fire and smoke) yet hard to believe, "Blue Smoke" is a slow-moving affair.