Picks and Pans Review: Drug Wars: the Cocaine Cartel

updated 01/20/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/20/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Sun., Jan. 19, 9 P.M. ET)

C

Bad night for sequels. In NBC's second miniseries reverently dramatizing the Drug Enforcement Administration's battle against international drug traffickers, Alex McArthur, who played the lonely cowboy in NBC's Desperado movies, arrives in Colombia under heavy guard to lead the DEA's efforts against the country's entrenched drug lords. Dennis (Crime Story) Farina plays McArthur's stateside liaison.

A clue to the mini's propagandist soul turns up early. While an important Colombian judge (Julie Carmen) pores over bank records, a large cockroach crawls slowly across the ledger. Carmen doesn't even bother to brush the bug aside. Now do you understand what kind of Third World hellhole we're dealing with here, Bucky?

Actually, in this bloated, solemn movie, the cockroaches win. At least the villains (Gustav Vintas, Efrain Figueroa and Geno Silva) have a certain baleful intensity. The good guys, hemmed in by regulations and families who just don't understand the sacrifices necessary, seem like cranky accountants. The mini concludes the following night with, appropriately, McArthur sitting on a beach pondering the lost lives and delivering an insufferable sermonette: "They all made a choice; they weighed the risk; they stood the sacrifice, and even though they knew this was not a perfect world..." Blah, blah, blah.

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