It’s summer time and the networks are throwing whatever they can at us to see what stinks … er … sticks. They’re busily burning off any leftover episodes of whatever series they long since decided to cancel and filling in the schedule with one reality show after another (I only watch the ones with incredibly gorgeous, impossibly athletic young women in very skimpy stripper outfits … aka So You Think You Can Dance). But every once in a while, they do cobble together a little original programming … as long as they can do it on a budget.
So we get Meteor: Path to Destruction. I guess the extra title is there to keep us from confusing this with Meteor, a disaster film from the late 1970s (early 80s?) staring Sean Connery. Back when it first appeared, Meteor was critically panned. Now, some might consider it a camp classic, a reasonable if not very good example of the disaster films of that era.
I really doubt this mini series “event” from NBC is ever going to be considered a classic of any sort by anybody. Instead of Sean Connery, Henry Fonda, Martin Landau, and Natalie Wood, we get Jason Alexander, Stacy Keach, Bill Campbell and Marla Sokoloff. But I’m not going to fault the cast that this “disaster movie lite” is managing to fall below my own admitted low expectations. They’re game enough, if not great. Jason Alexander is somehow even slightly compelling in his role as the “in over his head science guy”. Some of Stacy Keach’s efforts darn near brought a tear to my eye. His threatening speech to a gun-nut would-be rabble-rouser had me believing that this old, small town sheriff could disarm this foolish bumpkin and kill him with a seizure inducing stare without even scuffing his badge.
And so what if the costumes for any week of the afore-mentioned dance competition likely cost more than the special effects on display here. I’ve been known to watch (and occasionally enjoy) the cheese-fest monster movie of the week on the Sci-Fi channel, rarely holding the lack of quality effects against them. Every few minutes we get to see thousands of asteroids hurtling through space toward our helpless blue planet … or some kind of computerized Google Earth meets NORAD map thing zooming in on the west coast of the United States. All the action happens here, by the way. Yeah, there’s the ridiculous story line of the cute science gal trying to make her way here from Mexico with the vital piece of information required to save us all from certain doom, but the rest of the story all takes place in the good ol’ US of A. Or, more precisely, in California. The oft repeated (and I do mean oft) Google Earth special effect thingy is as close as we ever get to NORAD … or the Pentagon … or NASA for that matter.
There is, supposedly, some kind of critical time-line involved for this disaster, but good luck figuring that out. Day becomes night becomes day at the whim of a seriously overpaid editor somewhere. Most of the subplot story-lines are so far off the chart stupid as to not bother even mentioning.
Okay. I just have to mention one. Is there anyone, anywhere with worse luck than the cute science gal played by poor Marla Sokoloff? Holy crap! Every step this lady makes is plagued by mishap and misfortune … and at no time is she actually obliterated by a meteorite. And by all that’s holey*, don’t let women drive them old trucks. Not only will they not put gas in the damn things, they will also cause them to certainly overheat … a dual disaster that happens not once but twice … in just the first episode of the mini-series … to two different female characters. And you just have to know that each time it happens, a fatal tragedy immediately follows.
And why is this thing in two parts? Well, for one reason, they couldn’t call it a mini-series if it wasn’t. But fortunately, there isn’t simply one giant Earth killing asteroid. There’s two. Ergo, part two. See how that works?
That’s it. I give up. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m not giving this sad little mini-series anything close passing marks. Yeah, I’m gonna watch how it all ends up next week. Why? Well, I guess there’s a unlucky, sad little cute science gal inside all of us. We know it’s gonna be a hard, horrible road yet somehow we keep pressing on, regardless of the enormity of the disaster certainly about to befall us.
Meteor: Path to Destruction aired on NBC Sunday, July 12, and concludes the following Sunday at 9/8c.
*By all that’s holey … it’s a pun. And I do apologize for it.