THE SHOW "Ryan & Tatum: The O'Neals"
WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 10 p.m. on OWN
REASON TO WATCH Contentious father and daughter try to patch up their relationship, over eight hours.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Seven years ago, Tatum O'Neal published her daddy-dearest memoir that established her father (and one-time co-star in "Paper Moon") as a monster, who had abandoned and even beat her as a child. Now, there's a new let-bygones-be- bygones book out, "Found: A Daughter's Journey Home," along with this companion TV series.
Tatum and Ryan have been bitterly estranged for years, but in the book she writes: "In the ongoing process of rebuilding my life, it was time to deal with my biggest unresolved issue. My dad." In Sunday's opener, she elaborates: "How would I feel if my father were to get sick and die? Would I be OK? I realized I wouldn't be OK." She returns to California to be closer to him, in Malibu, and immediately confronts two major obstacles -- will he turn up at her 47th birthday; and will he go to a shrink with her?
MY SAY By most objective measures, or at least by Tatum's, Ryan O'Neal apparently was one of the worst fathers in Hollywood history -- a tyrant with a vicious temper who brutalized his own children and even grandchildren. His daughter and chief victim has led a fractured life of alcohol and drug abuse that's cycled through attempts at rehabilitation followed by relapse. She's now solidly on the wagon, she says, and has been for years, but you also quickly realize that her recovery won't be complete until she has reconciled with the person who abetted her illness in the first place.
Is this possible over eight hours, even with Oprah Winfrey -- the queen of self-help nostrums, who now has a whole network with a dozen varieties of chicken soup for the soul -- in her corner? I have my doubts. You may have yours, too.
BOTTOM LINE Tatum seems genuine and almost desperate to forget the past; Ryan affects the pose that he couldn't care less. Over this is draped a weird "only-in-Hollywood" vibe -- and a particularly sad one, too.