Picks and Pans Review: 10.5

updated 05/10/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/10/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT

NBC (Sun.-Mon., May 2-3, 9 p.m. ET)


I don't want to spoil this blockbuster miniseries for you, but look at the facts: Late in Part 1, San Francisco is devastated by an earthquake registering 9.2 on the Richter scale. The title of the whole shebang is 10.5. Is L.A. in for a helluva jolt or what?

Crammed with clichés that challenge the cast to keep a straight face, this disaster epic is spectacularly bad—which means bad enough to be fun. The brilliant maverick scientist (Kim Delaney) warns the blinkered bureaucrats of impending doom. The decisive President of the United States (Beau Bridges) says gutty things like "Begin with your gut" and "What's your gut tell ya?" The stubborn head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fred Ward) waits too long to heed Delaney but plays hero after the Prez inspires him with a sports metaphor.

Of course the movers and shakers steal time for personal matters while millions of lives hang in the balance. California's governor (Rebecca Jenkins) worries over the whereabouts of her ex-husband (John Schneider) and daughter (Kaley Cuoco, doing her self-involved-hottie act from 8 Simple Rules). Ward's impetuous doctor son (Ivan Sergei) is spoiling for a family argument despite the FEMA chief's pressing seismic priorities. And Delaney's colleague (David Cubitt) is a former boyfriend who doesn't mind kissing in a crisis. "There's no turning back now," he says. Relax—it's popcorn time.


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