Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Adapted from the once-notorious trilogy of novels by James T. Farrell, the three-part miniseres Studs Lonigan isn't quite as earthy and explicit as its source, but is lot more faithful to the original than the 1960 film version. Set in Chicago and covering the years from 1916 to 1931, this is the story of a brawling, braggadocio young Irish-American lad named Studs Lonigan (played as a child by Dan Shor, and as an adult by Harry Hamlin in his first major TV role). Despite his rough veneer, Studs is sensitive and concerned about his future, though he doesn't want to follow the values set forth by his tradition-bound parents (Charles Durning, Colleen Dewhurst). Hanging around with his childhood buddies, Studs gets into all sorts of scrapes and becomes involved with a number of women, notably the decent, demure Catherine (Diana Scarwid) and the lusty, libidinous Lucy (Lisa Pelikan). Though he grows in age and size, Studs has trouble maturing emotionally, surrounded by the pressures of a rough, prejudice-ridden neighborhood and the increasing hooliganism of his cronies. As the Depression crashes heavily upon the scene, Studs finds himself "trapped" in the very sort of middle-class quagmire that he'd always hoped to avoid. Earning an Emmy Award for art/set direction, the 6-hour Studs Lonigan originally aired March 7, 14 and 21, 1979, as part of NBC's Novels for Television anthology.