Picks and Pans Review: Robin Cook's 'invasion'

updated 05/05/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/05/1997 01:00AM

NBC (Sun., May 4, and Mon., May 5, 9 p.m. ET)

B-

You needn't be a confirmed nonbeliever in extraterrestrials to have a skeptical view of this tale, in which unfriendly creatures from "out there" take control of human bodies by means of a flu-like virus. We don't question the premise so much as wonder why Beau Stark (Luke Perry), first of the millions to be infected in the mini-series, is the only one seriously mutating. Were the producers trying to save on makeup?

Quibbles aside, the first two hours zip by as the epidemic spreads and Beau, under alien influence, goes from pleasant fellow to arrogant advance man for a scheduled UFO invasion. Perry is unnervingly effective, and the plot's momentum is not to be denied. But Part 1 raises expectations that Part 2 fails to meet. The pace slows, and Beau's wicked resolve is weakened by lingering love for his fiancée, Cassy Winslow (Rebecca Gay-heart). Several earthlings join Cassy in searching desperately for an antidote to the bug—while Perry's character presumably busies himself offscreen—but none makes much of an impression except Walt Kemper (Homicide-ex Jon Polito), a hardworking cop who may be coming down with something.

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