Retro Movie Review- When The Bough Breaks (1986)

Based on the 1985 mystery novel by Jonathan Kellerman, ‘When The Bough Breaks’ is a television film directed by Waris Hussein. It originally aired on NBC in 1986. 

Los Angeles psychiatrist Alex Delaware (Ted Danson) retires after a suspect in a child abuse case seemingly commits suicide in his office. Soon after, his friend and LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis (Richard Masur) comes to him to help with a seven-year-old witness who saw her neighbors get murdered. Unfortunately, her primary care physician Dr. Warren Towle (James Noble) is hampering Delaware’s search for the real killers. He reaches out to one of the victim’s friends Raquel Santos (Rachel Ticotin) who reveals a shocking connection to some high profile players in Los Angeles. 

As a fan of Kellerman’s novels, I decided to give this only adaption of his Alex Delaware series a try. Television movies can be hit or miss but despite this feature being a product of the time it was made, I still found it very enjoyable. 

Ted Danson does a good job as Delaware. While I will admit that I did not picture Danson as the psychiatrist, he catches the essence of the character and hits a lot of high notes that are commonplace in the books. Likewise, Masur is good as Sturgis. He nails the stubborn detective who is good friends of the protagonist, adding that flair. 

In the novels, Alex has a long time girlfriend named Robin Castagna. She is featured in the book but is largely missing from the film. They replaced her with Santos’ character and another named Lisa played by Deborah Harmon. It was a strong absence. 

One of the things I do enjoy about the books is the California vibe. Delaware cruises on familiar roads in Los Angeles and I felt like the film did a good job of picking that up. Even with the eighties television quality, it was cool to see that emulated in the movie.

Bottom line, When The Bough Breaks is a good adaption of the novel. While a primary character’s absence is felt, Danson and Masur do a good job as the main protagonists of the series. 

PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Sexual innuendo, Some language

FAVORITE QUOTE: There’s your connection. 

Check it out below:

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of Truman and Patton. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

You can find me everywhere on social media! Facebook: Author Jacob Airey | Instagram: realjacobairey| Twitter: @realJacobAirey | Parler: RealJacobAirey | YouTube: StudioJake

This article has been updated from a previous version.


  1. I find it disturbing how the very people that are calling for equality and tolerance are the least tolerant of all. America better wake up!

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