Picks and Pans Review: The Poseidon Adventure

updated 11/28/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/28/2005 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Nov. 20, 8 p.m. ET)

[STARS 1]

Like a whiff of middle-school-era perfume, certain shows instantly transport you to another time. Watching The Poseidon Adventure, a TV-movie remake of the 1972 capsized cruise-liner film, had the curious effect of whisking me back to the mid-'80s. I'm not sure whether to blame the lame FX (the upside-down furniture after the ship has flipped is straight out of Lionel Richie's "Dancing on the Ceiling" video) or the presence of my '80s crush C. Thomas Howell. But this Poseidon hit me like a triple spritz of Debbie Gibson's Electric Youth body spray: I kept waiting for "Hungry Eyes" to play during Steve Guttenberg's make-it-stop seduction scene with the ship's sexy masseuse. (Him, arriving at her cabin door: "I don't know what I'm doing here." Her, lustily: "I think you do.")

Yes, Steve Guttenberg. The '80s staple himself plays a cheatin' husband, one of several passengers new to this version of the S.S. Poseidon's doomed voyage. Fans of the first film may recognize the heroic clergyman (Rutger Hauer in the Gene Hackman role) and plucky Mrs. Rosen (Sylvia Syms, in for Shelley Winters). The rest of us will be left to ponder why a dazed-looking Howell (as the ship's doc) appears to have whittled himself down to about the width of an oar.

All of which would make this a throwaway TV movie suitable for a few minutes of laundry folding. But the film goes from cheesy to offensive when a Homeland Security agent onboard warily eyes the "international" waitstaff. (This time it's terrorists—not a wave—who sink the boat.) Bad acting is one thing, but trading on tired one-dimensional stereotypes? That is so '80s.

THE TYRA BANKS SHOW VS AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL

Tyra: [STARS 2.5]
Model: [STARS 4]

America's Next Top Model is possibly my favorite show. Ever. Yeah, I said it. No hour of TV provides more of an escape than Tyra Banks's brilliantly executed reality competition, now in its fifth season. Beyond the fantasy fulfillment—the gorgeous getups, the catwalk strutting—is a briskly paced series stuffed to the seams with creative new challenges (enlisting the guys from MTV's raucous Wildboyz for a recent shoot was inspired). So what if the girls aren't destined for Vogue? Escapism this potent is practically a public service, and for that I thank Model mastermind Banks.

Now if only the savvy supermodel's new syndicated chatfest, The Tyra Banks Show, made good on its host's talents. The trouble is, Tyra is often beneath Tyra. Deadbeats seemingly culled from Ricki Lake's green room circa 1995 appear too frequently, provoking an expression of bad-sushi queasiness from Banks. She fares better in segments that exploit her penchant for keepin' it real—stripping off her makeup was a nice touch—though she often struggles to fill the hour (no more talk about her breasts, please!). I suggest Tyra take the advice she so forcefully doles out on Model and Be Fierce. Then she'll be onto something.

COMEDY

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