Some people watch televison so they don't have to think...
I was going to watch the end of the world last night, but the football game ran long.
Specifically, the charmingly badly-acted miniseries "event" (for network TV values of "event") about a huge storm system that apparently really, really hates Randy Quaid and Gina Gershorn (called "Category 7: The End of The World", or something. You should see if they cover it on Television Without Pity).
Now, I laugh like all the others at these poorly-done network "events", but I have a sneaking soft spot for them - like I do for "The Towering Inferno" and "The Poseidon Adventure" - bad megamovies that have every semi-famous actor you can think of in weird supporting roles that have *nothing* to do with the plot.
And Robert Wagner. Robert Wagner is always in these things.
Gina Gershorn, by the way, makes a no less believable head of FEMA than whomever they have right now, and I'm pretty sure the real head of FEMA doesn't have the luscious lips that are responsible (in part) for the current rash of Hollywood types hitting the lip collagen a little too enthusiastically.
At least, that's what Bob says, and he's seen Gina Gershorn naked in at least one movie, so I'm sure he's an expert.
(I'll try and find out what movie that was, and let you know. He says there's another naked woman in it too, but the name rang no bells. It's probably on Mr. Skin (totally NOT work-safe).)
We ended up watching the two hour "Criminal Intent", which was superbly acted, well-plotted, and engaging, but had a serious lack of large-scale destruction (if you don't count careers, families, and general emotional well-being, and we don't).
I'm all about the planetary destruction. I will watch "The Day After Tomorrow" just for the bit where downtown Los Angeles has something like seven tornadoes ravaging it, and the bit where the British helicopter crew goes down because the air is freezing), and fast-forward through the rest (especially the bit where Sela Ward whines into the phone that she's so happy to hear from her son, thereby establishing herself as the most annoying and useless character in the movie, and I'm surprised the little cancer-ridden kid didn't strangle her with his IV line).
To what do I owe this great pleasure in watching terrible things happen to our delicate/fragile/endangered/ecosystem/planet/human spaceship? I blame the BBC - for some reason, on every major holiday, we got "The Towering Inferno" and "The Poseidon Adventure". Especially at Christmas. We watched it every year (and "The Wizard of Oz", which, while technically not a disaster movie, does feature a tornado), and I loved it.
I mean, I really love disaster movies. I love the bits in regular movies where things collapse and explode, and any program where something terrible happens to buildings is all right by me. For instance, my favourite Teletubbies episode is where TinkyWinky accidentally hits the wrong switch in the nuclear plant and the giant sun baby gets blown up.
You didn't see that episode? Well, it was good. You should watch all the episodes in case they show it again. Trust me.
As it turned out, most of the bad stuff in the current Miniseries of the Moment is going to happen next Sunday - we'll see the White House miniature get knocked about a bit by a technician in a tornado suit, Some bad stuff will happen to New Yorkers, and they might explain why terrorists (domestic, judging by the LLBean ski masks) stole a bus of people (you know, as opposed to anything useful), and maybe, just maybe, find out what they're going to call the supergiantmegamega storm they're showing on the computers at FEMA while Gina Gershorn pouts thoughtfully and opens another button on her blouse.
They've already had the "Perfect" storm, so this one will need an even better name. The Superperfect Storm. The Evenbiggerthanthelastone Storm. The Really Great Storm.
I'm voting for The Fabulous Storm.
Mmmm, fabulous. Like Gina Gershorn's lusicious, shiny, pouty lips.
The World in Jeopardy - film at 8. 11/21/05
I think I'm the only person I know who didn't go and see the Harry Potter movie this weekend. No, we stayed home, and watched movies on TV instead.
Like last weekend, except that was the second half of a "miniseries event". Thankfully, this Sunday's movie was a one-nighter, so I didn't have to wait another week to see whether anyone died or not.
Okay, we know someone will die, but the suspense of who, how, and why is part of the fun.
Actually, pretty much all the fun; made-for-network-TV movies just don't pull in the talented script writers, you know?
Well, I know, anyway. Why do I watch these things? So I can tell you all about how awful they are - the auditory (or, in this case, visual) equivalent of "this tastes terrible! Do you want some?".
Share the love, that's my motto.
Today, we'll talk about the special effects extravaganza that was the second half of "Category 7: The end of the world". Since I am a sucker for any movie that shows destruction on a mass scale (which is why I am one of the few people that actually wants to get the DVD of "The Day After Tomorrow" for Christmas), I couldn't resist an entire Sunday night of people (mostly Gina Gershorn) looking pouty and saying things like "This is our only hope. If we can't get this information out to everyone, we're fucked".
...To paraphrase a teeny bit.
The first half of the "event", as I said a few entries back, was rather dull - mostly shots of people looking serious and evil politician types thwarting the free exchange of information for political gain. While this continued in the second half, it was merely a plot device to make you hate the guy (who also played the stupid vice president in "The Day After Tomorrow", so he's typecasted for life) who thinks the city power shouldn't be shut down so much that you're quite happy to see him (and only him) get sucked up into the tornado that destroys the White House.
Bad people die in creative ways in made-for-TV-movies. We'll be revisiting that point again and again.
The second half of "Category 7: Deathmatch" was more fun than the first not only because there was much more weather porn, but because I had insomnia, and was completely hopped up on painkillers. Really, the only way to watch these things is to be under the influence of at least one mind-altering substance; that way, you can yell at the TV when you're watching alone, and not feel self-conscious in the slightest. I highly recommend it.
Watching these things sober could actually be life-threatening; two hours of that dialogue, and your brain crawls out of your ear and strangles you.
Of course, taking notes while under the influence (pills, booze, socialism - take your pick) means that you read the notes you took the next morning and wonder what the hell you thought was so funny that you wrote "Gina G. mumble, mummble, boobs, snort. I slay me".
Subplots always turn up in these movies, too - it's never enough that there's a destructive force hell-bent on destroying the world - no, that's not exciting enough. There has to be some sort of "people in danger that have to be saved when one's time would be *so* much better spent elsewhere" subplot so that the producers can extend the thing and call it a "Miniseries Event!".
In this case, we had the stupid "fundamentalist-psycho-who-thinks-it's-Revelation" subplot that resulted in way too much screen time for annoying teenagers and was, well, stupid. For one thing, if it's revelation, and for some reason, you feel that a good way to welcome Jesus back into the rapidly getting a bit more crumbly world would be killing all the first born children, then wouldn't you know your Bible enough to pick up on the bit where the Bible says first-born sons? Why are there girls in the group? Doesn't he know that Fundamentalist Jesus[tm] doesn't care about girls?
Never mind. He dies, and all the kids are saved, so it's not like it really mattered, or anything.
Forget I said anything about the subplot. Back to the storm that is threatening to kill us all, even while we've been a bit distracted.
You know, if I had the bad luck that everyone in these movies has, I'd just kill myself - seriously, I'd just lay down in the path of the storm and die. I mean, their bad luck is phenomenal - if it can go wrong, it will. Now, I'm used to a certain amount of things going wrong to heighten dramatic tension, but for heaven's sake, how unlucky can they be? I bet they get paper cuts trying to lick envelopes.
(Wait a minute - I get paper cuts trying to lick envelopes. Well, all of you had better hope that you never have to depend on my good luck to get you out of the storm that's threatening to destroy the world.)
(In fact, I think we all know that I'm more likely to be the evil mastermind that set all the destructive forces of the planet in motion. The only reason the world hasn't ended yet is because I have really abysmal luck, and a tendency to get paper cuts on my tongue, so my evil henchmen never understand my instructions.)
In the end, though, it doesn't matter that they all have horrific luck - it turned out that all they had to do was reduce the temperature of the air over the city, and the storm just... disappeared.
Yes, I started really yelling at the TV at that point. I expect a certain amount of pseudo science, but when "We can reduce the power of the storm just enough to survive it" becomes "hey, where'd the storm go?", you know that the writers just gave up and fed the last fifteen minutes of the script to the dog and made up some lame excuse to the producers.
In made-for-TV-movieland, the last dramatic bits have to happen really quickly anyway, so that they can fit in two more commercial breaks, five minutes of "we must never let this happen again!", and the credits (played really fast under the teaser for the late-night news, so you can't read who played what), and it doesn't matter that they just sort of willed the storm into abatement.
I'm guessing the producers decided that having the storm die down slowly wouldn't have left enough time to give us all the happy ending we were so hoping the useless bastards wouldn't enjoy.
******For those readers short on time, here's the capsule review.
"Category 7: The End of The World (and Boobs)":
Boobs, boobs, boobs, boobs, Gina Gershorn's lips, boobs, death, destruction, boob, bad guys, boobs, and boobs.
Boobs. Windy boobs. Wet boobs. Possibly underage boobs, but only for a second or two. Bad guys, bad guys, bad guys, stupid subplot that made no sense, but padded out the movie, padded boobs.
There's got to be a warning after... ("The Poseidon Adventure" remake) 11/23/05
Tippetty-tappetty-type. It's too early to think, and I still have that nagging migraine, but I have a duty to you, my faithful reader, to fill you in on all the really terrible made-for-TV movies and remade-reheated-rehashed-for-TV-though-it-was-fine-the-first-time movies.
Guess which kind "The Poseidon Adventure" is.
In the interests of fairness, I have to tell you that the original TPA is one of my favourite disaster movies ever. It's got that perfect '70s mix of has-been movie stars, still-doing-okay movie stars, and people-who-might-be-famous-someday-if-they-can-erase-this-movie-from-their-resume stars.
And a prostitute. The prostitute gets semi-nekkid for most of the movie, so you know it's good.
The original's premise of a giant tidal wave that tips the boat is no longer something that anyone would find remotely believable, since there have been about three billion shows on the Discovery Channel about how tidal waves work, and while "The Perfect Storm" had some splendid waves, they were in the middle of, well, the perfect storm, and the original Poseidon was sitting in completely calm waters when suddenly - BOOM! - tidal wave.
Since we no longer believe that a giant pissed off wall of water will make a cruise ship turn turtle, the makers of "Poseidon Adventure: The Dance Mix" decided that terrorists were much more plausible.
While I applaud the attempt to bodily haul the premise into the 21st century, the plethora of terrorist-driven disaster movies and TV series has rendered the idea somewhat overdone, especially when real life terrorists tend to go for more brutal and immediate results by bombing places in crowded cities for maximum fear power.
Oooh - sorry, got a bit serious there.
Anyway, terrorists plan to bomb the ship and - what? Sink it? Make it sail in pathetic little circles? Explode it into little tiny bits? They never really explained what their intent was to my satisfaction, and why they wanted that ship in particular, and even what group they were with. Some of them looked vaguely Egyptian, but the casting people mostly seem to have gone for a type best described as "child molester with a deep tan".
As extremist religious groups are wont to do, they all work in the kitchen. At no point do they ever actually show any signs of religious devotion; I guess it's enough to yell "Allah!" at odd moments, because clearly, all terrorists are Arabic and extremist.
Unlike the passengers, who are the whitest damn bunch of people I've ever seen grouped in one place.
Now, I was sewing during the beginning cruise ship boarding scene, so I may have missed someone in the background, but I don't recall a single passenger of any hue but the whitest caucasian, leading me to believe that the ship is actually a front for the KKK, which makes it even easier to root for the terrorists. It was pretty easy to begin with, since the passengers are all INCREDIBLY ANNOYING AND I WISH THEY'D DIE RIGHT NOW.
The movie uses the ID cards of the passengers to introduce us all to the major players in our briny little drama, a narrative technique that is almost as annoying as the passengers, and was last seen on "The Love Boat", because it's a totally cheesy outdated trick.
The one passenger that sticks out like the sorest of sore thumbs is, of course, the guy that's supposed to be the undercover US Marshal. He's wearing a wooly hat (affectionately referred to as a "head condom" in some circles), dark glasses, and ratty clothes, completely unlike any of the other passengers (whose clothes are tasteless and hideous, but not ratty).
Well, we all know that there are Good Guys[tm] and Bad Guys[also tm] on board, but the rest of the passengers must have been huffing the free perfume samples at dockside, because they seem to have no idea that the shifty-looking people surrounding them are planning mayhem, so we get to spend about half an hour learning much, much more about the passengers and their pathetically dysfunctional lives than we ever wanted to.
It's a stock thing in disaster movies; make the players seem like real people with real problems, so you'll care when they die. This just becomes tiresome filler for me, because I know they're all going to die, so I don't bother to get attached.
Besides, identifying with people who have the cash to buy $50,000 state rooms for a cruise (the kind with a suite, a balcony, and a view of something other than the water line) is a bit beyond me. I'm all for comfort, but for me, the room is for sleeping in, and I'm spending the rest of my time in the casino.
While the passengers are demonstrating why it's a really good idea to get a divorce, planning infidelities, and getting into things they shouldn't, Mr. Marshal Guy finds out that his cover has been blown by the cruise Activities Director, who was played by a troll that looked (we swear!) like the love child of Tim Curry and Gimli (as played by John Rhys-Davies).
Since the Activities troll was so completely troll-like, we pretty much pegged him as the asshole who's going to make everyone stay in the ballroom to meet their certain death.
While some of the characters and situations had been changed, the basic core of the original was kept, allowing us to peg who was going to do what at which time. It was fun seeing who they picked for each part - especially when they dug up Rutger Hauer from some cemetery somewhere and made him play the Gene Hackman character.
Keeping in mind that GH was a young, dynamic, progressive priest, and Rutger is somewhat more fossilized.
After about an hour of eye-rollingly stupid plot development, things finally got going. I don't know why they fill an entire hour with meaningless exposition when they could be killing people, but there you go.
The action starts with everyone eating dinner while acrobats hang from long ribbons on the ceiling. Now, I don't know about you, but having someone twirl around above my plate of food seems a bit off-putting. It did seem like an odd choice for a theme night - a sort of "Cirque de Filet". Really, the acrobats were there just so they could go crashing spectacularly to the ground when things got going.
There's also a bit where one guy promises his girlfriend that he'll love her forever. Clearly, he didn't know that promising to love someone forever in a disaster movie is signing, stamping, and hand-delivering your death warrant.
(The Angel of Death by the door will endorse your ticket to disaster movie death. Enjoy your last few minutes on this earth, and thank you for sailing with Certain Doom Cruiselines.)
Meanwhile, two terrorist guys roll big ominous looking beer kegs into strategic hiding spots and text each other on phones. Mr. Marshal Guy stops one of them, but seems perfectly oblivious to the idea that there might be more on the ship, because he then goes to dinner. When the other keg goes off, he gets this "Oh, I am so fired" look on his face.
The boat flips, thanks to some completely made-up scientific explanation. The man who's being unfaithful to his wife with the ship's masseuse (and the masseuse herself) get thrown naked around the room they're having sex in, the ballroom contents and people get tossed around, and the terrorist guy who was threatening everyone a minute before (for no real reason, that we could tell), goes arse over teakettle and gets beaten up by Mr. Marshal Guy who is attempting to salvage what's left of his career.
It's nice throughout the movie to see what they kept from the original - one of my favourite bits is when the guy crashes into the stained glass ceiling fixture, and I wasn't disappointed by the remake. Crash! Scream! And there goes the sugar glass!
Here is the point in the movie where people split ways - they've added in a whole subplot of Navy people at some unidentified command center somewhere getting a posse of Navy SEALs out to rescue the passengers, but that bit's rather boring.
Back on the ship, the Activities Troll has determined that since the Captain has been shot by the terrorist guy (I didn't tell you that the Captain was shot? Oh, Mr. Marshal Guy is so fired), he's now the ranking officer in the ballrom (where they eat dinner, no, I didn't understand it, either), and everyone has to listen to him, despite the fact that he looks like Tim Curry's shorter fatter brother, and acts like Sir Richard Attenborough on crack.
Of course, Mr. Marshal Guy and Rutger Hackman are not in the least bit interested in taking orders from a troll, so they organize a party of people who will bravely get killed one by one as they go through the ship, rather than cravenly die all at once in the ballroom when the water crashes in. That way, they get more of a mention in the credits than "first guy to get drowned".
They kept the Christmas tree ladder, too. They didn't keep the theme song, which was a pity, since I rather like it (especially the backwards version in that episode of South Park where Chef gets engaged to a succubus). Instead, they had a girl who's the girlfriend of the producer of some "Pop Idol" clone sing some totally forgettable song. Since they always show the teaser for the 11pm news over the credits, I couldn't tell whether they used it again there, but it was very forgettable.
Our intrepid bunch goes off, then unfaithful dad appears in the ballroom with masseuse chick, and his daughter, who stayed in the ballroom to help the wounded, gets all mad at him (and her), and then they decide to follow the other bunch, which includes Mom and bratty little brother.
Of course, as soon as they get to the top of the giant metal tree (Activities Troll screaming invective at them in one last desperate attempt to get more screen time), the ballroom gets violently flooded, killing everyone (they're all a bit too stupid to tread water and try to get to the upper level, but that's okay), and ensuring that the Troll isn't going to annoy any of us ever again.
RIP, Tim Curry Troll. We won't miss you.
Our intrepid band goes off, they meet up with the other even more intrepider band, and the girlfriend of the "Pop Idol" producer strips, and stands in a very fetching red set of undies. They bumble around for a bit until they get to the next bit where someone dies.
I found it rather sweet that they were keeping all the events that kill people from the first movie - it's kind of like listening to a cover band that keeps the quirks from the original song. In this particular bit, they kill the unknown actress who was picked to play the Shelly Winters role of the fat woman who saves Gene Hackman and then dies of a heart attack.
...Except that, as Bob pointed out, in the original, Shelly saves Gene Hackman, who's gotten stuck underwater and is in danger of drowning before it's his turn to die. In the new, more pointless version of TPA, Rutger Hackman is never in trouble, so basically, she dies for nothing, except that someone had to die.
Fat people always die. Bad people, too - mostly.
(Yes, Ma'am, that's the Angel of Death you give your ticket to at the door. Keep the line moving, folks, we've got a lot of customers to deal with tonight.)
So, they get to the top (bottom) of the ship, and mirabile dictu, the SEALs are there! But there's a problem.
Of course there's a problem.
The problem appears to be that the producers are no longer satisfied with a ship capsizing, people making it through insurmountable odds to get to the hull and being rescued, no. They need more explosions!
So, they are trapped behind a bunch of stuff, and they're going to blast it out. Big boom! But nooooooo - it's not big enough. And the ship is sinking. And there's still 30 minutes left to the movie.
(Well, 15 minutes if you count commercial breaks and the credits.)
...And Rutger Hackman's not dead yet.
Since they couldn't blow the debris out, and everyone's still trapped, they all decide that the way out is to go across the width of the ship, find the unexploded keg bomb, and use it to blow another hole in the hull.
You know, because blowtorches never work, and they're really heavy, so none of the SEALs brought one.
Of course, the trip across the ship cannot be uneventful, so they end up having to cross a catwalk over a fiery inferno of DOOM.
Putting aside the whole applied physics problem of what happens to metal when it's over a fiery inferno of doom, there's really no way they'd be able to be anywhere near a conflagration of that size - the heat is searing. But they all have to cross it, since there are too many survivors, and someone else must die.
Bob and I put in a vote for unfaithful husband (played with the most amazing whininess by Steve Guttenberg), especially since he chooses the fiery catwalk (of doom) moment to have a heart-to-heart talk with his son. I mean, seriously, I'd be pushing him into the flames just to get him to shut up and get a move on.
Terrorist guy also chooses this moment ("everyone's taking a break while that guy talks to his kid - I'll try and escape now, instead of waiting until we're off the ship") to get loose from Mr. Marshal Guy (who is soooooo fired), and plunges to a fiery CGI death after a brief (very brief) struggle. One death clearly not being enough, the script writers chose this moment to demonstrate once again what the world thinks of the "other woman", and the masseuse goes into the fire (of doom) when the catwalk collapses under her.
Bad people always die in disaster movies. There's always at least one "fallen woman" who has to die to satisfy outmoded puritan values. I bet wifey divorces unfaithful hubby anyway, and he'll be all alone, haunted by the memory of the chick with the magic hands plunging to a flaming death (of doom) that he did nothing to prevent.
Bob says that this clearly demonstrates that if you have sex with the wrong person, you're going to burn, and he's right. The status quo must be restored, and the poor little masseuse must be sacrificed on the altar of fidelity so that the perfect family can be together again.
(Wifey is so divorcing him as soon as they get to dry land. She'll get the kids, all the assets, and make him pay alimony so that he won't even be able to afford the really skanky prostitutes.)
(The kids' therapy bills will be huge.)
Back to our intrepid survivors, who are determined to set the keg bomb off, and I wondered if this was the moment where Rutger Hackman dies. I always got confused at this point in the original, since I swear that Gene throws himself (rather than falling) into the flaming abyss after calling God all sorts of names, but it was a fun bit of acting.
Network TV never does anything edgy like that, so Rutger says a bland little "help would be good right now, O Lord", which really makes me wish he would die, but he doesn't.
He doesn't die. Not even a shrapnel hit. Poo.
But, the keg is successful, there's a hole in the hull, the SEALs get everyone out (Bob was hoping for shrapnel to pierce the inflatable boats, but no such luck), the ship makes a sound like a wounded orca and sinks, and everyone is safe and sound (not counting the majority of the people on the ship who died horrible drowing deaths).
Except for Mr. Marshal Guy - He is so fired.
Network Brass Monkeys ("10.5" - part 1) 5/3/04
After a lovely weekend filled with sheep and antiques, we rounded out Sunday by watching "10.5" - and it's been a while since I watched a network miniseries, so I'd forgotten how truly awful and predictable the dialogue and plotlines could be.
And may I say just one thing? Could all you networks and movie producers get over the whole "NUKES! AHHHHH!!!!" plotlines? Yes, radiation isn't a fun thing, but it's simply not as scary as you think. People introduce the "we can only fix this thing by throwing nuclear warheads (notice how they always say warheads) at it" solution into every disaster movie - and it's nice that we've finally found a use for all the obsolete weapons building up in our arsenals (as opposed to Rumsfeld's plan to "update" them), but it's not played as a "hey, something fast and effective we can do to solve the problem" idea, but a terrible condemnation of the very idea that we have such awfoo, turrible things lying around.
People in these movies talk about the explosions as if the entire world will be poisoned. The fallout will kill trillions! All life as we know it will be extingushed, or at least slightly inconvenienced! People on other planets will die because of our casual use of these terrible weapons! Oh, America, when will you ever learn that nukes are not the answer to every problem?
Except that, as far as I've been able to ascertain, nukes have only been used to solve one problem, and that unnerved everyone so much they've never seriously considered using them again.
Oh, as a bargaining tool, sure. But to actually explode them? Hmmm - not so keen on that.
And that's just fine by me; I tend to think they're rather like swatting a fly with a Buick - awkward, unpredictable, and you never quite know if you're going to lose control of the Buick and have it fall on you.
But to watch current (and not so current) movies, you'd think we were giving the things out to local governments like candy - "This week only! Three obsolete MIRVs with every farm subsidy!" - and that we think "nukes!" every time some problem needs to be solved. Meteor hurtling towards Earth? Nuke it! Aliens attacking us with weaponry so advanced we don't have a chance? Nuke 'em! Center of the Earth stopped spinning (yeah, I loved THAT one)? Nuke it! WTO protesters causing traffic jams in downtown Seattle? Nukes! Steven Segal making yet another piss-poor revenge/martial arts movie? Nuke him!
Okay, well maybe that last one makes some sort of sense. I'd apply it to all new movies made by Woody Allen, too.
But hey, if the West Coast is going to collapse because of a huge fault (assuming everyone's not willing to just go with a slightly smaller contiguous forty states), and nukes will solve the problem, I can't see anyone in a multi-million dollar Malibu beach house really objecting that strenuously, can you? "Okay, it's radioactive, but it's going to be underground, so there's no fallout? Oh, there is a little fallout - is it going to fall on me, or somewhere like Mexico? Mexico? Okay... And it's going to be set off in an unpopulated area? Just in the desert, hmmm? And someone is going to die with it, because someone always has to make the ultimate sacrifice? Will it be Dick Cheney? No? Oh well. Okay - fire it up!"
Nevada's new tourism slogan can be "You can see the ground glow! You know, a little brighter than before!"
Oh, what do you care - you're going to be in the casino anyway.
10.5 gets a 2.0 ("10.5" part 2) 5/4/04
Aah, the hell with it.
"10.5: the second night that only half the number of people that watched the first night tuned into" was even worse the second night, if possible.
Of course it was possible. It's always possible. I was rooting for the father/daughter pair lost in the woods to walk in on the blast site just as the bomb (excuse me, "warhead") was going off, but no, they got picked up and taken to the refugee camp.
Apparently, I wasn't the only one that found the whole thing hilarious; on the radio this morning, they were talking about watching it with some geologist friends who were legless with laughter for most of the movie. It's good to know I'm not alone.
But then, it was a movie all about kinship, and getting along, even if the situation is dire. The people in the camps were managing so well because they were cooperating, geddit?
At least the camp wasn't overrun with the living dead (there were moments when the refugee camp looked exactly like the camp in "Dawn of the Dead"), though I think they got an earthquake. Frankly, I'm not sure; we switched over to "CSI: Miami" at 10pm.
Hey, I know how it ends; I don't have to watch the whole thing. People are safe and happy and reunited at the end, except for the ones that are DEAD, and there's a memorial service, and lessons about family and helping each other are learned.
Cue the happy music. And the endless credits.
But see, this is exactly how people don't act. Lines for registration at the refugee camps? People would be cutting in line, spitting on each other, and someone would be shot before two hours went by. Special phone banks would be set up for people to call their lawyers to prepare to sue the government for allowing cities to be built on unstable ground. People with stores of bottled water would be selling it for $1 an ounce. All the states surrounding the disaster area would be barricading the borders to control the influx of refugees, while at the same time applying to the Federal Government for huge sums of money to deal with the refugees they're not allowing into the state.
...Except for Nebraska; everyone in Nebraska would be pulling together a huge potluck for all the anticipated refugees. "Finally!" They'd be saying to each other, "Some company!" Unfortunately, no-one in California wants to go to Nebraska. The rich people have all flown to Aspen and Miami, and the poor people are all in the refugee camps because squatting in the dirt and paying $20 for a bottle of water is preferable to hotdish.
I kid; don't kill me. While I have never been to Nebraska, I'm sure it's a lovely place where the ground doesn't shake at all.
Other things, other things... oh, yes - when they showed the roads full of people driving to get away from the area (and I'd want to get away from earthquakes that produce chasms that can turn corners, too), the cars were all orderly and polite, and everyone was behaving themselves.
Are you kidding me? They don't drive this way in California when there isn't a disaster! People would be driving on the shoulder, between other cars, using their Humvees to drive over the other cars, and they'd sure as hell be using the Westbound lanes, too. They were obviously too cheap to try to make a real traffic jam; though why they didn't just film LA rush-hour traffic is beyond me.
Back to the "warheads": Bob points out that you can't really call them "peaceheads", even if you're not using them in a war. But I think it's just another peacenik way of rubbing our noses in the fact that there's nothing to do with nuclear weapons except use them in a war - though I bet one would make a nifty toaster. Seriously, I have no problem with simply calling them "bombs", or, if you think the viewing public is so dim they can't remember that everyone's making a fuss over possible radiation, "nukes" (you know, because ordinary bombs aren't nearly as scary as nukes). I'm sure (remember, I didn't watch 'til the end) that there was a poignant reconciliation scene between the head of FEMA and his estranged doctor son (at one point I said "Fuck! Everyone's related in this damn film!") a la "Armageddon" (but less moving, because the guy who played the doctor isn't half as cute as Liv Tyler), and I assume that the FEMA guy died, because that was the only way to expiate the sin of not evacuating San Francisco in the twenty minutes between being told that there was going to be a quake and one actually happening.
People did choose the most inappropriate moments to initiate serious relationship discussions in this movie, I swear.
So: Cheap, cheap, cheap, and bad, bad, bad. How can you spend so much money on something and yet have it look like you spent $1.98 (or two ounces of bottled water in the new streamlined and efficient smaller state of California)? The split screen scenes made me feel like I was watching an old episode of "Charlie's Angels". The scriptwriting was so bad I was surprised the guy who plays Charlie on "West Wing" didn't just throw himself into a chasm halfway through to avoid the embarrassment of being associated with this drivel. And the Governor's aide bellowing like a stuck cow during her death scene? I wanted to kill her myself.
Actually, I have to admit, I got a lot of entertainment out of this miniseries. Well worth the three hours of my life I would have been in danger of never getting back except that I spent them doing crosswords and making dinner.
I still think some zombies would have livened it up, though.
Text and images copyright L. Mellin, 2000-2008, except where noted. All rights reserved.