Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dan Jansen's Story Is Stuff of Drama

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dan Jansen's Story Is Stuff of Drama

Article excerpt

OF all the emotion-packed stories to emerge from the Olympics, none is more touching than speed skater Dan Jansen's.

Who will ever forget his 1994 victory lap in Lillehammer? Circling a darkened arena, he carried his baby daughter, Jane, named for a beloved sister who died in 1988 just hours before Jansen raced, and fell, in Calgary.

Jansen's story was told and retold at Calgary and again at Lillehammer, and now it's being told again as a TV movie, "A Brother's Promise: The Dan Jansen Story" (8 p.m. Wednesday on Channel 4).

The movie doesn't manage to tell us much we don't know.

Jansen grew up in Wisconsin as the youngest of nine speed-skating children, but only Jane (Jayne Brook of "Chicago Hope") emerges from the crowd with any personality. She and Dan were especially close, and we first meet a young Jane as she fights off a bully for him.

When young Dan loses his first competition, dad Harry (Len Cariou), a policeman, advises him that there are more important things in life than skating in circles.

But Dan (Matt Keeslar) doesn't take it to heart. He competes obsessively, aiming for the Olympics and egged on by his sharp-edged girlfriend, a Canadian skater named Natalie (Christina Cox). Meanwhile, Jane marries and has three children.

All this is covered briskly, skimming the story's surface. Although Keeslar is fine as Dan and Brook is wonderful as Jane, they barely manage to make us feel connected to the characters.

The feeling of superficiality continues as Jane falls ill and Dan falls in Calgary before meeting future wife Robin (Claire Rankin) and skating to the outcome we're familiar with.

"A Brother's Promise" is sweet enough, and seldom sappy. But this half-hanky drama can't compare with the full-box-of-tissues poignance of the real story.

Snakes are our friends. But don't get 'em riled.

That's the premise of "Rattled" (8 p.m. Wednesday on USA cable).

This is standard thriller stuff: Developers blasting in the desert stir up nests of rattlesnakes, who invade nearby homes, almost (but usually not quite) biting everyone from toddlers on a playground to gardeners clearing brush.

But as played out here, it's campy fun. …

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