Photo of Gerald McRaney, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Ricky Schroeder and Jennifer Nettles, photo courtesy of NBC
“Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors” (NBC)
The TV movie, “Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors,” is based on one of Parton’s original songs and tells the story of Dolly and the coat from her childhood. It is a simple story full of faith and family and it should touch the heart of anyone who watches it.
The movie succeeds thanks to Parton’s honest and touching story concerning her life as a child living in the Great Smoky Mountains. She, her mother, father and six siblings did not have an easy time of it back in the 1950’s. Money was sparse and hard work was common, but love was abundant.
Two events marked Dolly’s life during her ninth year. There was a tragic death in her family, and her mother sewed for her a coat made of patches that she called “Dolly’s Coat of Many Colors.” It was to Dolly as regal and beautiful a garment as Joseph’s coat that was described in the Bible.
The story woven around these two events is one of faith. Dolly (Alyvia Alyn Lind) is secure in the love of her mother Avie Lee (Jennifer Nettles) and father Robert Lee (Ricky Schroeder), but when tragedy strikes she sees them drifting apart. Her mother has her faith to hold on to but her father is not a believer. Even though he married the daughter of Preacher Jake Owens (Gerald McRaney) he can’t bring himself to follow her into the church.
There is also the problem of Dolly’s ego. She considers herself special even in a family of seven. She can sing like an angel and it gets her extra attention. It also gets her resentment from some of the members of her family and her classmates. Dolly learns some lessons in humility that year she is nine years old.
What could have been cloyingly sweet is not due to the acting skills of the cast. Lind is excitable and exuberant as Dolly and never slips over into “cuteness”. She is a very natural actress and maintains Dolly’s sweetness and spunk with ease. Matching her in talent is Nettles as Dolly’s mother, another role that could have been pure stereotypical goodness. Nettles brings this role to life and makes Avie Lee tender and vulnerable.
Schroeder has a little trouble with his role as the patriarch of the family. Although he maintains the weatherworn look necessary for the role, he fails to bring depth to the character. He is better in the final scenes than he is in the initial ones. McRaney is protectively gruff as Avie Lee’s father.
Pamela K Long’s script holds your attention from beginning to end. Her soap opera background gave her good training in how to allow a simple story to capture an audience’s heart. Viewers are brought totally into the story from the start and stay with it until the very end.
Dolly Parton is an American treasure and has told many of her stories through her songs. “Coat of Many Colors” is one of her best. Don’t miss this movie. It is full of charm and heart.
“Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors” airs Thursday, December 10 at 9PM on NBC.