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April 26, 1993
Section: Living
Page: 5C

NOTE: This article appeared at the end of the second (and last) season of the TV series "Homefront". There is a little article about Jessica at the end as well.


Gannett News Service

HOMEFRONT Parts 1 and 2
Tonight at 9 and 10
on Chs. 7 and 11

IMAGINE a performer giving a great farewell.

He moves us and amuses us. Then he bows and drifts offstage, to thunderous

It is a perfect finish. Still, we want another encore, another season,
another . . .

That's "Homefront." On Monday, it has one of the best finales I've ever
seen; that's despite the fact that it hasn't been canceled.

The show is still a prospect for ABC's fall season. First, it gets the
equivalent of a farewell tour: a serious hour at 9 p.m., with Gina
(Giuliana Santini) recalling her Holocaust ordeal; then the season's
finale, at 10.

Along the way, "Homefront" finds turning points for most of its
characters. It also illustrates that shows really can get better.

When Ginger (Tammy Lauren) raced to a train in her wedding dress during
the pilot, it was stupid. When she does it in the finale, it's part of a
wonderful scene.

That's been the show's salvation. Lauren has transformed Ginger from a
silly cartoon to a gem.

The setting is late-'40s Ohio and Ginger is lost in dreams. She wants to
be a star in movies . . . or in radio . . . or in this newfangled TV; she
also wants Jeff (Kyle Chandler), a sweet-souled hunk whose baseball career
was detoured by injury.

Change on the home front

During the finale, they end up in a car together. The result --
wonderfully written, perfectly played -- is one of the year's best scenes.

There are many more, as the "Homefront" world wobbles.

Mike and Ruth (Ken Jenkins, Mimi Kennedy), prepare for a divorce, and must
sell the house.

Al (John Slattery) has been hit by the Red Scare. He'll look for work back
home, far from his polio-stricken wife (Wendy Phillips) and their baby.

Meanwhile, her grown daughter, Linda (Jessica Steen, see below), is a

Then there's Charlie (Harry O'Reilly), trying to turn Jewish and marry
Gina. And Caroline, still scheming. And the Davises, with their

Somehow, most of their stories are neatly tied together Monday. There is
humor, humanity and nary a false moment.

''Homefront" isn't what it used to be; it's better. Watch it, applaud it,
hope for an encore.

Growing up artistic

Jessica Steen grew up in a world of words, some of them loud.

''There were just a lot of people coming and going all the time," she
says. "There were friends . . .

''My mother is a very argumentative person. There were grown-ups arguing,
crying, having hard times, having good times."

This was in Toronto, among '60s-style artists. Her mother, Joanna Noyes,
is an actress there; possibilities seemed unlimited.

Soon, Jessica Steen was hurled into the future and the past.

First came "Captain Power," the Canadian-made show that let kids shoot at
the screen. For a child of the '60s, it was an odd step.

''You don't feel confident about luring children into buying guns as
Christmas toys," she says. "(And) it projected such a dismal outlook of
the future."

Only later did Steen begin to believe her fans: "Captain Power" was a
surprisingly good show, tautly filmed and solidly acted.

By then, she was ducking series. "My energy had been mapped out in five-
to eight-week stretches; that's the way my life works."

Then she saw the "Homefront" script and Linda Metcalf. "I thought she was
caring, concerned, morally strong, progressive."

Those are things Steen plays easily.

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