Time & Again Machine

DATELINE: Wells Novel on Screen Again

 Guy Pearce face-off with hologram enacted by Orlando Jones!

 

Back in 2002, forty years after the original classic George Pal movie, there came a remake of The Time Machine, based on the H.G. Wells classic.

This time the stalwart hero is Guy Pearce, and the story once set in London during the Victorian Age with an American as the time traveler, is now set in New York with an Austrailian as the American scientist. It doesn’t matter much as Guy Pearce is so brilliant, humorous, and always watchable. His rebel scientist eschews hats and wears his long hair greasy. It is quasi-Victorian, but totally Hollywood.

The film’s best moments are its paeon to the earlier film and story. As if to underscore the homage, they have brought Mr. Ed’s Alan Young out of retirement to play a cameo. He was one of the stars of the 1960 version.

Our favorite moment is when Orlando Jones shows up as a hologram at the New York Public Library who can tell us about the earlier movie, the Wells novel, and can even sing a tune from the bad musical version of the same.

The time machine itself is a Rube Goldberg mess that looks worse than the one used in 1960, and one character even calls it a “cappuccino maker.”

The impetus for time travel is, of course, the unfortunate death of our hero’s girlfriend. He goes back to fix the problem but discovers that you might go back a thousand times, but her death will occur every time, however differently.

The interesting travels through time also takes us 802,000 years into the future when the planet has clearly gone through some ice ages and re-growth. It is interesting that the evolving of humans seems minimal. You can blame that lack of insight on Wells, not the movie.

All in all, this old-fashioned and fun movie plays with the subject and our memories of it. It’s hard to believe that it was almost twenty years ago that it escaped our attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patrick Swayze Remembered!

DATELINE: Gone 10 Years!

 I am Patrick Swayze!

Has the Dirty Dancing Ghost star been gone for ten years?

The documentary put together by those who loved him (wife, brother, costars, friends, agents) is powerful its use of one word: “heart.” It seems to crop up regularly from a variety of people. He had it and he gave it.

The film description said he “challenged Hollywood’s notion of masculinity,” which perplexed us, as he seemed instead to epitomize it. He could play a cowboy, a dancer, a roadhouse thug, in action films where he did his own stunts. He was vibrant, and only handsome incidentally. He was an athlete or a ballet dancer, and from that root came everything else. This is one of a series of biographical films, this called I am Patrick Swayze.

His mother was the ultimate stage mother: she ran a Texas ballet school, and it was obvious Patrick Swayze would be part of that world. Knee reconstruction from football injuries put him in pain whenever he did those roles thereafter.

He did not want to be a teen idol, though his roller blading was stunning, and his dirty dancing made him internationally famous.

Friends talk of his soul of a poet, how well-rounded in arts he was. Rob Lowe and C. Thomas Howell were teammates, rivals, and friends, from the Coppola movie The Outsiders. He costars noted he was mild and dynamic at the same time.

We always found him watchable and curious about what he might do: sometimes he took on roles that did not interest everyone, but he was his own man in that regard. Then, he was sick with pancreatic cancer and gone abruptly. It now appears to be a grave injustice of the universe to take away a person who epitomized life.

He wanted to prove there was life beyond being a sex symbol, which led him to do sky-diving stunts in Point Break and brutal fight scenes. He was not wanted for one of his great roles, in Ghost.The director had to be convinced, but Patrick Swayze always convinced anyone who put his attentions on.

Like the proverbial meteor, he came, shined by in the firmament, and went away. Like many others, after seeing this film of his life, we miss him too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncanny Cats: Not Exactly T.S. Elliot

DATELINE: Cat Got Your Tongue? 

Way back in 1977, on the heels of a career of low budget horror movies, Ray Milland took off his toupee and faced the snarling, pouncing faces of cats. The film was titled The Uncanny, which is hardly catty enough.

Yes, what Alfred Hitchcock did for The Birds, this film wanted to do for your cute and cuddly pussycat. Don’t ask what’s up, pussycat, because writer and scientist Peter Cushing believes that cats are the devil’s messenger—and they have it for him. He has written a book and is trying to sell it to publisher Milland.

Like Erich van Daniken, Cushing’s paranormal writer has tackled the Pyramids, UFOs, and other topical crypto-science subjects—and has turned his attention to a conspiracy of cats. And, his feline nemesis is not a happy camper.

If your idea of fur balls turning evil is good for a laugh, this movie is for you. If you belong to Internet websites that features kitty cats doing funny things, you may be horrified. Well, that is the point of this film.

As for us, we never grab a pussy by the tail—and recommend you don’t either!

The sordid little tales are set in London in 1912, Hollywood in 1936, and in contemporary Montreal. We should tell you that the cold winter of Montreal does not stand in well for Los Angeles.

The cast is downright overblown: Donald Pleasance and Samantha Eggar are in Hollywood, and Simon Williams—fresh off Upstairs/Downstairsas wastrel James Bellamy has a cat moment himself. A few other known faces, like John Vernon, are also in the storyline.

The film did not ruin anyone’s career, having been lost for decades and forgotten by everyone involved. It isn’t HItchock level, and it is of varying brutality and humor, but you seldom find a movie in which cute kitty-cats are filmed like horrid monsters, leaping from balconies to kill.

As a curio, this one is worth peeking at.

 

 

Halston: Fashionista with Un-Common Touch

DATELINE: Clothes Make the Woman

 Halston, Taylor, Minelli at Studio 54!

Fashion designer extraordinaire, Halston was part of a generation that self-immolated by 1990. Most of them were gone: trend-setting, pop culture icons:  notably Halston (he only needed one name, like Liberace). A fascinating documentary aptly named Halstontells the tale.

The 1950s gave young talents like Halston and Warhol a youthful connection to fame, but it was by the 1960s they took charge of their lives. Halston was a gypsy of America, living in no true fixed abode. So, he was likely to be self-made.

He was ambitious and flamboyant, ready to take his energy and ideas into all kinds of creative realms. He was the pioneer who made Europe take note of American fashion, though he was later given rivals like Perry Ellis and Calvin Klein.

Halston tried to stay ahead of the curve, branching out into aesthetics like perfume with bottles as arty as popular. He melded movies and fashion together, finding that his association with people like Liza Minelli and Elizabeth Taylor were ways to grow socially and artfully.

It started to go wrong when he splurged into Studio 54 with Warhol, Capote, and the raft of disco dollies. It was, some said, the beginning of a dissolution.

The documentary never says much about his aging, but it’s there: clearly losing youth to something harder. He became as hard as his looks, or perhaps his looks took on his personality: moody, bossy, self-centered.  It wasn’t pretty, when he started to be less pretty.

Others thought his greed was the deciding factor that led to his destruction: he sold out to J.C. Penney, going from class to mass appeal. It alienated his well-to-do friends and undermined his name. He actually sold his own name, and lost control of it.

The end featured more intrigue that Ancient Rome, as he was pushed out (literally locked out) of his own empire by locksmiths and Playtex bra people who bought his name. A few thought it was drugs that did him in, if not promiscuity.

It was the 1980s and the deadly virus that swept through art circles in theatre, fashion, music, especially in New York, took him too. Andy Warhol once said that he’d want Halston and Elizabeth Taylor as his chums because they were so nice.

This celebrity name-dropping documentary may stir memories in a generation grown old. Halston was loved by many people who felt he epitomized tragedy by the end.

 

 

 

 

Madhouse/Funhouse/Nuthouse & Then Some!

DATELINE: One Last American International Horror

 

 

 Cushing & Price

 

Madhouse is a nuthouse extravaganza movie with a funhouse spirit.

Vincent Price finished up his American International contract, which featured so many classic Edgar Allan Poe tales done outrageously, that it seemed inevitable that he would go out with a blaze. Here, he plays a movie star who made a bunch of movies as “Dr. Death,” a hideous murderer. Art imitates life here.

His career went south when he was accused of cracking up and murdering his fiancée. Whether he did it or not is the crux of the horror. You may find more than a fair share of suspects trying to “gaslight” the old star.

Well, after a dozen years in a madhouse, he returns to acting to star, good grief, in a TV series based on his infamous character.

If you haven’t guessed that most of the funhouse nuthouse stuff is all tongue-in-cheek, you miss more than most of the Hammer House parody.

Joining Price is Peter Cushing as his best friend, fellow actor, and screenwriter of all those grisly murder movies.

If that is not spicy enough for you, A-I studios dug up their two other favorite stars of the 1960s—Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone—and featured them in amusing cameos. It’s no mean feat, as the two legendary stars were long-gone for about a half-dozen years by the time this film was before the cameras.

You have to love a movie that begins with everyone watching a film in a Hollywood mansion with the final credits rolling out the words, “The End” in blood red letters.

If shameless overacting isn’t your thing, then you may not appreciate the golden opportunity Price has been given: he even dresses the part, in white trench coat and matching fedora.

There is even an O.J. Simpson moment when Scotland Yard has everyone try on the murderer’s glove: if it fits, you know the rest…So, O.J.’s lawyers found the idea in this movie!

Playing Mr. Toombes, Price puts a cutrate on fellow cast members as they are all mysteriously dispatched as the new TV series takes place at British studios. It is a nicely set film with solid production values to make you forget this is what a good cast and production team can do with a low-budget.

 

 

 

 

Every Act of Life: Terrence McNally

DATELINE: Surviving Show Business

 Terry McNally & Eddie Albee back when….

In all my connections to Broadway writers, Terrence McNally never came up much.

Now James Kirkwood would talk about everyone in show biz! We gossiped about them all. Yet, there is no memory of him mentioning McNally.

Oh, they knew of each other: gay writers winning friends in great theater. Kirkwood certainly knew Edward Albee who was McNally’s first important boyfriend, but McNally may have been too openly gay for Jim Kirkwood. It’s the only conclusion to make.

Every Act of Lifeis a documentary on the life of McNally who worked with every actor imaginable since the death of Jim Kirkwood in 1989, and that may be the survival of your reputation in show business. Richard Thomas, Nathan Lane, Rita Moreno, F. Murray Abraham, Angela Lansbury, all share memories of their careers and personal ties to McNally and his funny and varied plays.

All Jim’s closest actor friends, like Sal Mineo, are long gone. One young writer once said to me: “Wow, I didn’t think any of Kirkwood’s friends were still alive.”

McNally survived, though people like Robert Drivas, his tempestuous and exotic actor boyfriend after Albee, died of AIDS in 1985 in the first wave of notable show business deaths. Drivas was a closet case, and yet it was open and flamboyant McNally who still lives nearly forty years later.

There is no accounting for survival, but you have to admire it when it shows up at your door. The film on the life of McNally is likely a tonic and a fizz for gay people who need superior role models. If you die too soon, you can’t be much of a mentor. If Jim Kirkwood were here, I might say you should never have told me to write your autobiography and play coy about your gay life. Yet, he did.

McNally, had I known him, would never have said such a thing, but those plays and characters never quite grabbed like Jim Kirkwood’s creations.

Oh, it’s too late now to do much about it, but we can celebrate the life of Terrence McNally, albeit a tad on the late side.

 

Dr. William Russo wrote Riding James Kirkwood’s Pony, available in paperback and e-book on Amazon.

The Hunt: Billions for Defense

DATELINE: Not a Cent for Distribution

hunt

The new movie entitled The Hunt, which is loosely based on the Richard Connell classic story most dangerous game has been shelved or postponed from release. It’s been shot dead by Trump and his automatic trigger finger on Twitter.

It now appears that the story about a pre-Nazi survival list is now too hot for Hollywood.  They have been a number of versions over the years including some with ice cube being hunted or Joel McRae back in the 1930s .

There was a version in the mid 50s and one in the 40s .  The tail has always been a twist on a survival list white nationalist elitist crypto Nazi who has poor people because they are clever and they are the most dangerous game to hunt .

Now President Trump has attacked the film because he doesn’t like the idea that billionaires maybe hunting down poor average Americans, or worse immigrants. He calls this racism of the liberal sword.

This man has no sense of literature, of a Connell story written first in the 1920s as a metaphor of privilege gone mad. There have been versions every generation—like Billy the Kid tales. Each story fits the moment of its production.

If we are learning any lesson, it is that you cannot maligned the reputation of good men who just happened to be billionaires who own 90% of the world.

You’re insulting Trump’s friends who are holding fundraisers in the Hamptons led by the owner of the Miami Dolphins who happens to have 7 billion or bad craft, solicitor of prostitutes in massage parlors who happens to have $4 billion.

These people would never engage in a sport that hunted down the people who buy tickets Or would they?

 

 

Time Travelers in 1964

DATELINE: Lost & Forgotten Gem!

Foster & Hoyt Great Supporting Stars!

IB Melchior is hardly a name to be lumped in with the grand auteurs of long-ago: we think of Orson Welles, but there were others like William Cameron Menzies—and IB.

He wrote, directed, and produced, slipping into American International studios at the end, but keeping up high quality on a low-budget.

The Time Travelers is a joy to behold. Move over, Irwin Allen.

His sleeper is a take-off on The Time Machine and other sci-fi classics of the 1950s. With unusual intelligence, he put together a minor movie with a TV-generated cast of cast-offs: there’s an aging Preston Foster, off bad TV after a weak leading man life in the 1930s. He has a pointed imperial beard and wears an occasional monocle as the steady scientist behind a time travel machine.

There is Phil Carey, looking pauchy even at his peak of TV work as the assistant. You have white haired John Hoyt, taking his hair color cues from Brian Keith, as Varno, leader of a futuristic tribe of nuclear war survivors.

And there is Steve Franken, fresh off playing the Dobie Gillis nemesis, Chatsworth Osbourne, as the boyish (he was 34) foil. We never realized just how short he was.

Throw in a guest appearance from Forrest J. Ackerman, whose paranormal documentary by Paul Davids is The Life after Death Project. Here he suitably appears at the paranormal portal to the time warp.

The film features rovers on Saturn’s moon, Titan, discussions of exo-planets, and the kind of odd creatures that H.G. Wells was fond of using for troublesome survivors.

You might be surprised at how the effects work quite well in a simple manner before computer generated spectaculars. And, you do have real actors trying to keep a straight face.

It’s a wonderful little sci-fi classic that we dismissed back when—and suddenly have re-considered in old age as something a bit more special. If you love time warps and seeing a movie speed up and recap in one minute, you are in for a treat.

 

 

 

 

 

Seconds & Second Chances with Rock!

DATELINE:  No Deal?

unbecoming Rock Unbecoming Rock!

We love Seconds, or even thirds and fourths of Rock Hudson in his best performance—ever.

We cannot say this lightly. The John Frankenheimer film of 1966 was a game changer in style and director controls. Here, you find something completely different in its stylistic attitude. Cameras may be strapped to the backs of the actors, and the entire feel is somewhat institutional hallucination.

Seconds is a tale of new beginnings, or at least the kind offered by impersonal corporations, if run by some Satan. In this case, the satanic figure is fatherly (and even grandfatherly) Will Geer, better known as Grandpa Walton. Here, he is in his early career roots as the bad guy with a smile that is malevolent. His lackey Jeff Corey is suitably irritating.

Many other familiar faces of the 1960s give this film a sense of been there—but not quite. Frances Reid later became a soap opera queen of Days of Our Lives, but here is the wife of John Randolph, a man in his 50s and unhappy.

He is about to have the chance to become a run-down Rock Hudson.

The deal, like all those offered by Faustian bargain, is never quite what you want. Here, Rock Hudson discovers a tad too late that the hedonistic life of an artist in Malibu is not all it’s cracked up to be with corporate spies (Salome Jens) and a butler/manservant that is all too obsequious.

The final moments of the film are chilling and provide Hudson with something he never had in movies: a real juicy acting gig. This is something to behold and admire, and it holds up for the baby-boomers who might have scoffed in youth, and now look askance at the aging process.

Appalling Holmes & Watson

 DATELINE: Elementary, School That is.

elementary school.jpeg 

We were warned, and now you are warned.

The Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly remake of a comic Conan Doyle couple is not exactly a blue-plate special. It is going for .99 cents on Amazon streaming video. You know that price is rock bottom for rock bottom quality. This is a step down for the Step Brothers.

The film is horrific in terms of anachronisms. There are references to killer bees, protein shakes, and headlines that smell of National Enquirer in the 1950s.

Worse yet are the fake British accents on our traditional heroes, showing that they cherish good acting as much as a paycheck. The actors playing them as children speak with American accents (as do all the kids in London).

Mrs. Hudson is a trollop—and not from the British pages of classic literature.

We almost expected Judi Dench was likely offered the role as Queen Victoria—and that would have set us off on a tangent. Instead, we have Ralph Fiennes acting in a separate movie as Moriarty.

He has no flair for comedy.

Perhaps the most surprising couple in the film are the Road Trip movie stars: Rob Brydon as Lestrade and Steve Coogan as the one-armed tattooist.

We almost wish they had played Holmes and Watson. Of course, this may be the only version in which Lestrade is smarter than Holmes.

The movie moribundly moves from one witless encounter and set-up to another. Killer bees are inexplicably in a glass case at 221b Baker Street, allowing for a madcap moment without suspense.

Another stupid setup is Holmes surprise birthday party thrown by the Queen.  Who wrote this drivel? Mindless is the Zeitgeist of the age: and if this is you, you will be in your element.

Yes, it’s elementary.  Elementary school.

Brooklyn Bridge Revisited

 DATELINE: Ken Burns Classic

great art Amazing!

In 1982 Ken Burns made a name for himself with this small, unassuming and brilliant documentary about the fifteen-year process to build the iconic, magical Brooklyn Bridge.

The film made his reputation and sent him on a career as a ground-breaking documentarian. What’s left nearly forty years later is the masterpiece of film on the masterpiece of engineering.

To take it in again after so many decades and find it as fresh and charming as when first seen is like the chance to walk across the East River like one of those who saw it like the first man to walk on the Moon.

John Roebling came from Germany as Hegel’s favorite student and a brilliant bridge maker. He designed the way to cross the river between New York and Brooklyn in three months. Then, fate intervened, giving him tetanus and killing him. It left the job then to his 30-year old son and Civil War hero Col. Washington Roebling.

David McCollough lends his narrative presence, but familiar voices dot the film: Julie Harris, Kurt Vonnegut, and others.

The dangerous caissons gave Roebling the bends, and he recovered but never fully. He managed to oversee the bridge construction from his third-floor bedroom with binoculars. His wife supervised and learned engineering to carry out on-site work.

Great Lewis Mumford lends his presence here to the cultural viewpoint with a poetic expression of his walk across the bridge as a young man. There are clips of Frank Sinatra in a movie in love with the Bridge, and even Bugs Bunny puts in an appearance.

The Bridge is monumental, inspirational, beautiful, and a cathedral of the national pride.

This is definitely American pie.

 

 

 

 

Posse: Political Western by Kirk Douglas

DATELINE: Anti-Western from 1975

Posse

When star Kirk Douglas went all out to become the Orson Welles of Westerns, he chose a highly political topic in the age of Nixon and corrupt politics in 1975. It’s called Posse.

In this sagebrush tale, Douglas is Howard Nightingale, a marshal running for U.S. Senator in Texas. He will be elected over the dead body of a notorious outlaw he chases and catches straw man named Jack Strawhorn (Bruce Dern).

Therein is the rub.

Douglas knew how to make action movies. After all, he worked with some of the great directors—and he decided to produce and direct as well as star as the anti-hero, or outright villain of hypocrisy. He is pure Kirk and that is highly watchable.

Traveling with a photographer taking shots of his great moments, the marshal hopes to run for President of the United States down the road. He even has an affable relationship with the bad guy.

It’s his posse that is the Achilles heel.

Like all political leaders, he relies on his staff (underpaid, less than scrupulous, and even corrupt). The marshal treats his men worse than the outlaw treats his. There’s a message in there about your politicians.

As the bad guy Dern states, there are enough types like the marshal already in Washington. They don’t need another.

The cast is right out of 1970s supporting actors. David Canary doesn’t last long, but Bo Hopkins is there—and James Stacy, after losing an arm and leg in a motorcycle accident, and later jailed as a pedophile, plays a newspaperman who contends that Kirk Douglas is in the bag for the railroads.

 

This is a violent and cynical Western, likely meant as an antidote to Clint and Duke. However, its politics is so negative that we blanch at its modern attitude. It is also clean and well-produced, like a classic 1950s movie, which is also out-of-date for the era in which Douglas made this movie.

 

Strange and idiosyncratic, this film is as watchable as well as execrable.

Hostile Witness: Not Agatha Christie

DATELINE: Good Intentions Not Well Done

ray Milland, director and star.

Alas, Oscar winner Ray Milland loved movies and he directed several feature films and a dozen TV anthology episodes during the 1950s and 1960s. He was not box-office, except as a character actor—and movies had changed.

So, the Welsh actor returned to England to film his final director effort in 1968 in which he also starred as a barrister whose mental breakdown makes him a prime murder suspect.  It’s a second-rate court-room murder mystery on the lines of Agatha Christie, called Hostile Witness.

Milland is juicy with those eyes and old Hollywood’s courtly gestures. However, the material (a Broadway murder mystery, no less) lets him down. All the actors are superior Brits like Felix Aylmer as the court justice.  Sylvia Syms plays a surprisingly modern career woman working in Milland’s office, removed when Milland arrogantly decides to defend himself in court.

The barrister cracks when his daughter is killed by a hit-and-run driver. It elicits little sympathy from fellow lawyers whom he regularly embarrassed in his court-room victories. His professional colleagues let him stew in his own juices.

The film means to be another Witness for the Prosecution, but even with intelligent actors and directors, they cannot overcome a wild script that uses color-blindness as a red herring and a frame-up as the plot devices.

It just simply isn’t clever enough than to be an overblown film that would soon become a staple of TV made for movies in 1968. It might have made a passable anthology court drama. Within a few years, he gave up all pretense of being a leading man, removed his toupee, and played it as an old reprobate usually.

As it is, with nicely appointed sets, the main action is the second-half in the courtroom with testimony and outrageous and unlikely court etiquette.

We stuck with dapper and aging Ray Milland to see what he tried to do with no budget, no script, and relying on his talents. As he said in an interview, “The problem with being a director is that you also have to eat.” We admire his attempt to make movies no matter what.

Happiness is a Protective Cup

DATELINE: Chernobyl Goes to Dogs

up on the roof Suicide by Radiation?

Young conscripts sent to the Chernobyl disaster are given crude and useless cups for their scrota. It won’t help. They are not told the truth of the dangers of their mission, though it may not be hard to figure out.

The despondent faces of the young men ordered to commit suicide is quite evident.

Yet, critics of this series noted that the Russians in the series use the wrong type of drinking glass for vodka. Yikes! your world is ending! The type of glassware you select seems a minor consideration.

Episode 4 of Chernobyl reaches an apex of appalling. Cheap and homemade lead cups are tied loosely around the underside of young soldiers as they walk around camp.

Soviet bureaucrats begin to rebel against a mentality of their leaders to hide the notion that the Soviet empire can do anything wrong. It may be the last straw that will lead to the fall of the Communist rule.

One group’s job is to go into deserted and evacuated towns and shoot the stray dogs and cats that are dangerously radioactive. It is part of the mental strain that can break men.

In the meantime, Stellan Skarsgard and Jared Harris want to use lunar robots to push graphite off the roof of the power plant. However, the Soviet leadership will not accept American help (only West German)—and they provide false information to the Germans, who make a rover that cannot withstand radiation.

It leads to the most horrific of all concepts: bio-robots. Men will go into the roof area to sweep up the most radioactive debris. They will likely be dead in a short time, especially figuring on the thin lead aprons and headcovers.

If you fall during the job, you are likely to be dead before the sun sets.

A Russian general gives each man his pay at day’s end and wishes them “good health and long life,” knowing full well that neither will be available after their work.

 

 

Say Ahhh, Chernobyl

DATELINE:  HBO Series, Episode 3

stellan Stellan Skarsgard as Boris.

Episode 3 of the HBO series about the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl continues to depress and to create outrage. Though the Soviet regime handles it with usual ant colony efficiency, there is something horrifying about people being “asked” to commit suicide to save humanity.

One wonders how different it would have been if Three Mile Island were on a par with Chernobyl.

Perhaps there will always be those who will involuntarily volunteer, their bravery is inexplicable. The drab veneer of communist life hardly inspires sacrifice.

Smoking cigarettes for everyday Soviets appears nearly as deadly and commonplace as radiation poisoning.

Jared Harris, son of movie star Richard Harris as the nuclear physicist closest to the crisis, looks like he has already been exposed to some deadly radiation. His growing irritation with non-experts making decisions about life and death may be the biggest surprise in Soviet life.

Challenges openly to Gorbachev in front of the head of KGB is considered fair play as Stellan Skarsgad notes that the scientist is regarded as a harmless fool. Otherwise, he would be in big trouble.

The performers cannot be faulted for presenting dire nausea as the bottom line of their performances as they watch people rot away—and know their own deaths will be delayed, as they have kept a slight distance from the worst.

To say you need to evacuate millions of people from radiation poisoning makes Jared Harris ridiculous and dismissed. The fictional woman played by Emily Watson is arrested by KGB. Coverup is a hard game to play.

Ignorance is bliss, for many think they have superficial burns. Yet, others know there is some kind of death sentence coming instantly after exposure for a short time. One young woman won’t leave her fireman husband, touching and hugging him despite pregnancy and sure devastation to come.

The meltdown is coming—and conscripts of young men, dour and worried, are the front line of defense for the world.

The proximity to doomsday permeates this little miniseries. It is a cautionary tale that helps no one.