“Fatal Confession” starred Tom Bosley as Father Frank Dowling, a Chicago priest and fan of detective novels who suspects one of his parishioners – a man whose death police ruled a suicide – was actually murdered.
Helping Dowling prove his theory: Sister Steve (Tracy Nelson), a streetwise nun who’s also an ace pool hustler and card shark.
Their investigation brings them into contact with all manner of unsavory characters, including the deceased’s scheming business partner (Peter Scolari), a pompous senator (Leslie Nielsen), the senator’s devious daughter (Susan Blakely) and a mob family’s intimidating matriarch (Sada Thompson).
“Fatal Confession” was one of the sound-alike titles the networks slapped onto TV movies in the months after the success of the 1987 Glenn Close/Michael Douglas theatrical flick “Fatal Attraction.” (See also CBS’s “Fatal Judgment” and NBC’s “Dangerous Affection”).
Father Dowling’s first adventure didn’t wow critics – “Do we really need a priest fighting crime along with everyone else in prime time?” Ray Richmond asked in the Orange County Register – and “Fatal Confession” finished third in its time slot behind a Los Angeles Raiders/Seattle Seahawks game on ABC’s “Monday Night Football” and “The Secret Garden,” a “Hallmark Hall of Fame” movie on CBS.
Nevertheless, NBC ordered a “Father Dowling Mysteries” series, airing seven hour-long episodes in the winter of 1989 and then dropping the show. In January 1990, “Father Dowling Mysteries” returned with new episodes, but this time on ABC, where it aired for another season and a half.
From the Pages of TV Guide
Also airing Nov. 30, 1987:
8 PM NBC ALF (CC)
ALF gets a crash course in civics from Kate (Anne Schedeen), who has a dream that ALF crashes the political scene as a Presidential candidate. Political interviewer John McLaughlin appears as himself. Sen. Hossenfeffer: Louis Felder. Rep. Pearl: John O’Connell.
8:30 CBS KATE & ALLIE (CC)
From last season: In a toast to “I Love Lucy” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Allie (Jane Curtin) receives a letter for Charles and her desire to read it is acted bout in her dreams: first as Lucy with Kate (Susan Saint James) as her cohort Ethel, then as Rhoda to Kate’s Mary. Mr. Harris: Paul Austin. (Repeat)
[Beginning next week, “Kate & Allie” airs a half hour earlier.]
11 PM FOX WILTON NORTH REPORT – Comedy; 60 min.
Debut: Straight news with a comedy approach anchors this weeknight offering. Producer Barry Sand plans an offbeat look at the day’s events with hosts Phil Cowan and Paul Robins; a talk with a newsmaker; and a follow-up discussion with interviewers Nancy Collins and Greg Jackson.
11:30 NBC TONIGHT; 60 min.
Guest host Jay Leno and actor Vincent Price. Doc Severinesen and the Tommy Newsom orchestra.
12:30 NBC LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN; 60 min.
Scheduled: Tom Brokaw. (Repeat)