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Chris Krapek

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Drew Peterson: Untouchable Is a Repugnant TV Movie

Posted: 01/24/2012 1:29 pm

Near the end of the atrocious Lifetime movie, Drew Peterson: Untouchable, the former Bolingbrook Sergeant (Rob Lowe) is sinisterly opening and closing his neighbor's garage door. The neighbor, who believes Drew is responsible for his fourth wife Stacy's disappearance, says she'll change the garage codes in order to stop him.

How he got the opener is a mystery, but why he has it is quite obvious; to be the catalyst for the following lame dialogue:

"Going to prison is going to stop you," says his neighbor.

Drew responds, "I'm not going anywhere. I'm untouchable, bitch."

The garage door closes.

If you've ever seen an original Lifetime movie in your life (I sincerely admire you if you haven't), you know that this ridiculously absurd scene is the network's trademark. It's cheesy, it's sophomoric and it's completely obligatory. Untouchable is littered with repugnant scenes like this. In one, Drew is having sex with his third wife Kathleen Savio when their son opens the door and watches. Presumably still in the act, Drew laughs at the little guy before getting up, showing him his manhood and says, "He has a right to know why they call me 'Big Daddy."

In another, Drew and Stacy (The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco) get into a physical altercation during a graduation party when that same pesky neighbor walks in to confront them. One of the worst lines I've ever heard in my life is then uttered by Stacy: "Everything's fine. Drew just threw me into the TV, but wanna help me make some margaritas?"

Untouchable is based on Sun-Times reporter Joseph Hosey's book Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wives of Sergeant Drew Peterson. I haven't read the book, but I genuinely hope that it's not as distastefully corny as the two hour schlock it produced. According to Amazon, the book is temporarily out of stock.

There is no story arc here. The first hour explains how Drew and Kathleen were having marital problems, how Stacy entered the picture, the circumstances surrounding Kathleen's mysterious death and Stacy's disappearance. The second hour is solely about Drew and the ensuing chaos that started in Bolingbrook and ended up on The Today Show and Larry King Live. It's disjointed and turns a real-life, multiple-family tragedy into a third-rate movie featuring cinematic adaptations of news clips you've already seen a hundred times.

There is little development of character beside Drew, and the only thing we can really tell from this film is he's a slime ball. His kids and their feelings are almost entirely ignored -- more importance is placed on the aforementioned neighbor and a journalist who always carries a satchel. Also, both wives are seemingly portrayed unfairly as result of their little screen time. Kathleen is cold and bitter about her dissolving marriage and Stacy is wide-eyed youngster exploding with naivety. How could their families watch this?

In an example of foreshadowing that can be found in a freshman year English class, when the third and fourth wives finally meet, Kathleen says, "One day you'll be just like me." Ugh!

The only redeeming element found in this sensationalistic, heartstring exploitation is the performance of Lowe. He carries the film by caricaturizing Peterson and being genuinely creepy, but it's not necessarily good. His preparation for the role seemed to consist of him watching old Saturday Night Live "Chicago Superfan" sketches and phonetically pronouncing "polish sah-sage" to himself. And then there's the squinting. He squints his whole way through this film like he's French Stewart exposed to sunlight for the first time.

With our society's somewhat morbid fascination with "ripped from the headlines" stories, and Nancy Grace having an outlet to vehemently expound upon it, it's really no wonder Lifetime capitalized on this opportunity to make a loathsome movie like this. They did the same thing with Scott Peterson and Amanda Knox, so why not Drew? Untouchable was a trending topic worldwide on Twitter, will air no less than six times this week and was cable's most watched original movie in two years with 5.8 million viewers.

If you live in the Chicagoland area, heck, even the country, you know how this terrible story unfolded and how Peterson is now in prison awaiting trial for the alleged murder of Savio. Untouchable offers nothing revelatory or new. I hope that the Savio and Peterson story and the legacy of their lives isn't forever remembered because of a Lifetime movie.

I'm sure it won't, but it still seems morally reprehensible to make money off an insensitive and terrible TV movie when closure still hasn't been attained for their families.