Scott (Gary Cole - An Officer and a Murderer) and Sue (Mary Page Keller - Beginners) are happily married, reasonably well off and with their first child on the way are looking forward to becoming parents with plans for a new house in the country. But then disaster strikes when during child birth Sue dies leaving Scott not only heartbroken but also with a baby to care for. Completely unprepared to be a single father Scott also struggles with keeping his business running to the point it becomes too much and after an incident with his baby at the hospital, he questions whether it is fair to his child and whether it would be better for all if he put his daughter up for adoption.
Have you ever watched "Jersey Girl" where Ben Affleck ends up a single father after his wife dies during child birth; well "Those She Left Behind" is both a more serious version and a forerunner to it with a focus on the drama of a single father struggling to cope on different levels. And it works but in a typical TV movie fashion where whilst we have a look at the drama we also have the emotion and a few other things which are typical of the genre.
So as already mentioned the focus of "Those She Left Behind" is on Scott ending up a widower and single dad when his wife dies during child birth. But before we get to that point the movie sets up various elements which you know will come in to play later on; we discover that the relationship between Sue and her mother is a tense one, we learn that Scott has a phobia of hospitals and doesn't plan to be in the delivery room during child birth, plus we also meet Scott's kind work colleague Diane, played by Joanna Kerns, who is close to both Scott and Sue. These things and some other bits lay the path for how various parts of "Those She Left Behind" will play out.
But once we have the set up out of the way with the real focus of "Those She Left Behind" comes to the fore as Scott is unable to cope with his grief, being a single father and running his business. We see a variety of issues which Scott struggles to deal with but the most significant one is when the baby won't stop crying and not knowing what to do ends up putting the babies life in jeopardy and in turn causing Scott to consider whether adoption would be better for everyone and not just him. This draws in some of those story elements set up right at the start in a cliche but well worked manner to make "Those She Left Behind" an emotionally uplifting drama.
Now as for the acting well it is fair to say "Those She Left Behind" is solid for a TV movie. Gary Cole brings a whole array of emotions to the part of Scott such as being angry following the death of his wife, feeling that the whole thing is a nightmare and struggling being a single father who doesn't know what he is doing. At the same time Joanna Kerns fills her role with a sympathetic performance as the supportive friend, whilst Colleen Dewhurst comes over as perfectly catty as Sue's pushy mother looking to lay blame.
What this all boils down to is that "Those She Left Behind" is a solid and well worked TV movie about a widowed father struggling to cope with a newborn and his grief. But due to its length it is unable to explore the full depth of the drama, just highlight the various aspects of the emotional situation.