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People Top 5
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- June 10, 2002
- Vol. 57
- No. 22
Picks and Pans Main: Tube
Week at a Glance
Oh, sure. The press release says it's a "horrifying tale," combining "the excitement of Twister with the nail-biting suspense of The China Syndrome." But going by the cute way the title seems to blow off the screen during the opening credits, I decided to look at this TV movie as intentionally spoofy rather than hootably bad. That's the charitable interpretation, and I'm sticking to it.
Sharon Lawrence (formerly of NYPD Blue) portrays a single mom who works at a nuclear power plant in Tennessee. Current Blue cop Mark-Paul Gosselaar costars as her neighbor, a deputy sheriff and ladies' man. While Lawrence is supervising a skeleton crew on the Saturday shift, a couple of tornadoes visit the plant uninvited. The first sucks a hapless security guard way up in the air, ending a quickie acting job by ex-Olympic speedster Carl Lewis. The second prompts a goofy young employee in a Kiss T-shirt to warn, "This is gonna make Chernobyl look like a firecracker!"
The script is filled with clichéd scenes (count on Gosselaar to win back an ex-girlfriend's love by saving her life) and dialogue (Lawrence's boss, just when a Chernobyl sequel appears to have been averted: "We're not out of this yet, not by a long shot!"). Still, the film gives us an occasional wink that may signal permission to laugh whenever we please. What game do you think Lawrence's son and the babysitter are playing just before the high winds hit the house? Twister, of course.
While Gosselaar makes his heroic rounds and Lawrence gets to be strong and emotional, Corbin Bernsen is stuck playing the sheriff back at the office. His only hope for action is L.A. Law Reunion II: The Earthquake.
Bottom Line: Won't blow you away
Showtime (Sun., June 9, 8 p.m. ET)
Ireland looks pretty in this mélange of a TV movie, even if the characters have no good reason for being there—or being, period.
Bailey (Bernadette Peters) and Bobbie (Rachel Ward) are a lesbian couple who run the Two Sisters pub in a seaside village near Dublin. Bailey, an excitable American, supposedly had a 20-year career as a Broadway actress; Bobbie is English and enigmatic. How do they happen to be together on the Emerald Isle, along with Bailey's chatterbox brother David (Jonathan Silverman)? Who cares about details? Everybody comes out of left field, including Bobbie's nephew Alan (Thomas Sangster), a suddenly orphaned 10-year-old who joins the Two Sisters family. "Your brother and his wife were smashed to pieces by a real big truck," Bailey tells Bobbie. There, so you wanted information.
Bobbie's breast cancer and Alan's self-esteem problems are apparently designed to add emotional weight, but the whole story is as sketchy and unconvincing as Bailey's theatrical resume.
Bottom Line: Erin go blah
Sisters family. "Your brother and his wife were smashed to pieces by a real big truck," Bailey tells Bobbie. There, so you wanted information.
Bobbie's breast cancer and Alan's self-esteem problems are apparently designed to add emotional weight, but the whole story is as sketchy and unconvincing as Bailey's theatrical résumé.
Bottom Line: Erin go blah
ABC (Tues.-Fri., June 4-7; Tues.-Wed., June 11-12; 10 p.m. ET)
Show of the week
In 2000, ABC News brought us inside Johns Hopkins's hospital and medical school in the superb Hopkins 24/7. Now the same producers are back with a six-part documentary series on people with tough jobs in the city of Boston. The ambitious project (taped mostly between March and May of 2001) makes for compelling, if occasionally frustrating, television.
Though police officers seem overrepresented here, Boston 24/7 is filled with characters worth knowing: a dedicated paramedic with only one hand; a nightside newspaper reporter who "lives to scoop" her competition; a boyish rookie prosecutor fighting discouragement over his winless streak in the courtroom.
It's only when the program focuses on Mayor Thomas Menino's office that the viewer may feel shortchanged. As Menino and his top aides clash with the firefighters' union, a state agency and the media, we seldom get more than the mayor's side of the story. In big-city politics that's never enough.
Bottom Line: Catches the Hub's heartbeat
HBO (Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)
Good police work takes time to bear fruit. Remember that as you approach this gritty new drama from creator David Simon (The Corner). The 13-episode series (premiering June 2) revolves around a complex narcotics investigation in a depressed Baltimore neighborhood. Detectives Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) and Shakima Greggs (Sonja Sohn) pursue the case diligently, but the detail is led by a lieutenant (Lance Reddick) whose zeal is questionable and loaded with cops who are either aging and lazy or green and inept. Meanwhile we observe the targeted drug gang, headed by the feared and shadowy Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris). Avon's nephew D'Angelo (Larry Gilliard Jr.) successfully supervises pushers in the projects but may be entering the danger zone of moral confusion.
Early episodes can seem as static as a stakeout, and the viewer has a ton of information to absorb—much of it conveyed in obscenity-laced slang. But as we gradually get to know the players—Jimmy with his drinking and bitter divorce; Shakima with her lesbian relationship; D'Angelo with his junior-management pressures—The Wire grows electric.
Bottom Line: Stay connected
Sunday, June 9 VOLCANIC VACATIONS Travel Channel (8 p.m. ET) Hey, who ordered the lava? Hit Indonesian and Hawaiian hot spots plus Mount St. Helens.
Monday, June 10 AMERICAN STANDOFF HBO (8 p.m. ET) A protracted Teamsters strike is the subject of this powerful documentary.
Tuesday, June 11 AMERICAN IDOL FOX (8:30 p.m. ET) The two-night premiere (continuing Wednesday at 9 p.m.) covers the audition process for this talent-competition series.
Wednesday, June 12 GIRL-FRIENDS IFC (8 p.m. ET) Jennifer Aniston in She's the One tops a triple bill of films with stars from Friends.
Thursday, June 13 ROSWELL: FINAL DECLASSIFICATION History Channel (8 p.m. ET) Brace yourself for secret info on the 1947 UFO incident.
Friday, June 14 BACK TO THE FLOOR PBS (10 p.m. ET) Top executives in Britain and America try doing the grunt work in this series premiere.
Saturday, June 15 LIVE BY REQUEST A&E (9 p.m. ET) Still strange after all these years, rocker David Bowie performs viewers' favorites.
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