TV Review: 10.5 -- Apocalypse

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'10.5: Apocalypse'
When: 9 p.m. today and Tuesday, NBC.
Starring: Kim Delaney, Beau Bridges.    

There was voice-over narration from the president (Beau Bridges) at the end of the first "10.5" disaster mini-series that played like an excerpt from a presidential address, with the commander-in-chief announcing the end of the calamity and promising that "we will prevail and endure."

Not so fast.

The first mini-series performed well enough in the ratings for NBC to commission a sequel. Hence, "10.5: Apocalypse" (9 p.m. today and Tuesday, WPXI) picks up right where the original left off. Continuity be damned; all is not well.

Los Angeles is leveled during the opening credits, then a cruise ship is swamped by a tidal wave that also attacks Waikiki. Like the shark in "Jaws" (by the time "Jaws: The Revenge" rolled around anyway), Mother Nature is a vengeful force out to destroy American landmarks that didn't bite it in the first miniseries (farewell, Mount Rushmore!).

Awful as the first miniseries was, "Apocalypse" is even worse with just as poorly drawn new characters and boring plot hops from one disaster locale to the next. Cheap, cheesy special effects don't make this pathetic popcorn flick go down any easier.

Bridges returns as the American president with Kim Delaney back as Dr. Samantha Hill, an earthquake expert, and David Cubitt returning as seismologist Dr. Jordan Fisher. The rest of the surviving cast from "10.5"? They were smart enough to sit this one out.

Instead there are a bunch of new characters, including Samantha's father, Dr. Earl Hill (Frank Langella), and competitive brothers played by Dean Cain and Oliver Hudson.

Hudson, once a poster boy on assorted WB series, appears to be growing beyond the teen heartthrob stage with the onset of a double chin.

In addition, there's a mother-daughter team working for FEMA, and the president's daughter, Amy, volunteers for the Red Cross so Carlos Bernard (hunting for a paycheck now that his days on "24" are over) has someone to hang with.

Written and directed by John Lafia (you can also blame him for having a hand in the original "10.5"), "Apocalypse" invents the elder Dr. Hill's "accelerated plate movement" theory to explain the sinkhole that swallows Las Vegas and the fault line that threatens to split the continent in half. Who knew that when a fault line rips open in North America, there's molten lava just 30 feet below ground?

In the first "10.5," Samantha suggested using nuclear devices to stop the West Coast from collapsing into the Pacific Ocean. So this time, that wily Mother Nature aims the growing fault line for two nuclear reactors near Houston. It's a veritable, "Take that!"

The only reason to watch "Apocalypse" is for a good laugh. It's perfect material for "Mystery Science Theater 3000":

"Isn't it nice the Earth is so easily tricked?" you could say after a fault line is stopped by an explosion.

This line would work for any of the actors: "I hope this one doesn't go on my IMDB page!"

Poorly acted, terribly written and plotted with audacious ridiculousness, "10.5: Apocalypse" is TV junk food that's neither tasty nor filling. It's just junk.


TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Ask TV questions at www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Q&A.


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