The Turkey generally does not do movie and TV reviews, but I am impelled to comment on CBS’s piece of crap, waste of time mini-series called Category 7: The End of the World. From its technical inaccuracies to its political agenda, from its sophomoric dialog to its miscasting, this is the worst garbage I have seen on network TV since the demise of My Mother, The Car, which at least did not take itself seriously. I had to force myself to get through it last night. Well, that’s a lie. I Tivoed it and couldn’t stay awake long enough to watch all of it last night. I had to finish the final half hour of what turned out to be the first installment this afternoon. When it ended with “To be continued…” I knew that I probably would not be watching the second (and, I would hope, final) installment.
The premise of the movie is undoubtedly based on the notion that the U.S. should have signed the Kyoto Accord, because by not doing so, our greenhouse gases are causing the whole world to be in deep shit, weatherwise. The movie opens with widespread destruction from “Category 6” storms already having wreaked havoc from Las Vegas to Chicago. We then get to witness a Category 6-er firsthand, as Paris is decimated.
Gina Gershon, who is quite at home playing a hooker and looks it in this role, is cast as the new FEMA director. She is appointed by the evil Director of Homeland Security, who is in cahoots with the President to: a) cover up stuff that would be detrimental to the energy industry, and b) save Washington and all the evil military bases while letting innocent, ordinary people die in the big storms. Evil Director thought that FEMA Director Gina would be a pushover, but (Lo and behold!) she’s got a mind of her own. Let us not forget the feminist cause, which must be served up in all too frequent doses by the Hollywood intelligentsia.
Another miscast role is that of a grizzled hurricane hunter pilot, played by the aging Tom Skerritt. His co-pilot is the guy who plays Eric Delko on CSI Miami, who I believe fits the need for a token Afro-Hispanic-American with a New York accent. Together, they are flying an unmothballed SR-71 Blackbird, which it was decided was the only aircraft suitable for the mission of dicking with the mythical Category 6 and 7 storms. Old Tom, having been checked out only on C-133s, has never flown an SR-71 before, but this, of course, does not stop him from accepting the mission, getting the keys to the plane, hopping into it, and taking it for a spin around the block. Later, as he dreams of placid days at his Sun City home, Tom loses all the avionics in his Blackbird, and has to fly by the seat of his Depends. Cut to an exterior shot of the “Lady in Black,” which is looking rather bright and shiny. I’m no military aircraft expert, but what I saw looked more like an FA-18 than an SR-71.
I didn’t pay attention to who the actor was who plays the formerly discredited meteorologist whose report on these weather phenomena was edited by the evil White House. This actor does not look like any of the geeky meteorologists I have ever known, such as Rich Crouthamel, my erstwhile dorm neighbor at Penn State. (I had to tie into the Penn State theme somehow!) But I digress. This guy is lean, somewhat disheveled, and tends to walk around with a perpetual five o’clock shadow. He gets his inspirations by watching the steam shoot out of the whistle hole of a whistling teapot. This represents the sum total of evil humankind’s power plants and greenhouse gases shooting up into the ionosphere. He explains it all to Gina, whom he apparently dated back in the good old, pre-discreditation days—or maybe he was just one of her Johns. As he explains it, he writes out “MESOSPHERE” on the blackboard, but he continually mispronounces it MEZ-a-fear. This carries on annoyingly through the movie.
Back to the political agenda, we have a subplot involving a televangelist and his evil wife, who is concocting some evil money-making schemes involving the forthcoming end of the world. She even imports some western horseflies to create a staged Plague of Flies. That was after the Plague of Frogs, where poison frogs escaped from a museum exhibit and killed a bunch of people at a cocktail party. Along the way, her preacher husband is seen to get in her way too much, so he mysteriously dies. Apparently, the public needed little convincing, because in the final scene involving Ms. Televangelist, a counting room that could probably service all of Harrah’s casinos was displayed with untold millions in po’ folks hard-earned cash zipping through the machines. Evil religious right Christians! No doubt fully supported by the evil administration in Washington!
There are subplots and other characters, but why bother? By next week this time, this piece of trash will be over, hopefully to go back in the can and stay there.
But then, there’s the main plot, which is where the technical inaccuracies abound. I guess we could start with the fact that there is no such thing as a Category 6 or Category 7 hurricane. Of course, these Category 6 storms being depicted over those very prominently hurricane-prone cities of Chicago and Paris must not be hurricanes. Of course not, silly—they’re caused by the steam from the tea kettle shooting up into the mezzafear. Butbutbut, then Hurricane Eduardo pops up in the Atlantic somewhere around Bermuda on the map, so naturally, Dade County Florida, 1000 miles away, is under a hurricane watch. (Never mind that Dade County changed its name to Miami-Dade County in 1997.) Cut to Dade County emergency headquarters. There’s a whole gale a-blowin’ outside, waves crashing over sea walls, and people running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I guess they forgot that a hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions might possibly maybe perhaps occur within the next 48 hours. In an actual hurricane, hurricane warnings would be flying. So the guy on the phone, presumably a meteorologist with much hurricane experience, says, “We’ve got winds gusting to 150 mph. It’s a Category 5 now.” Yes? Really? Any idiot who followed this years’ storms know that Category 5 starts with sustained winds of 155 mph, which is quite enough to flatten many structures without resorting to the melodrama of Categories 6 and 7. Awww, and I was hoping for a Category 8, damnit!
I guess we need Category 6 and 7 to enable us to affix blame on the corrupt administration, which is in charge of the world’s weather.
Anyhow, Eduardo is threatening to combine with another Atlantic storm to menace Washington and New York. If that happens, notes our unshaven meteorologist, it’s going to royally screw up the mezzafear because, “This won’t be a Category 6. It will be a Category 7!” No shit, Sherlock?!?! So, we had to wait until the last five minutes of the first two hours of silliness to validate the title of the damn thing.
OK, so we have to evacuate families of essential personnel from DC. This, of course, includes Gina’s son, who is dating Dr. Unshaven’s daughter, and whose respective mom and dad will probably get together themselves when the tough work of saving the world and proving the administration to be a bunch of money-grubbing, big energy loving, heavy-handed evildoers is done. During the course of the evacuation, which involved buses, the bus on which the aforementioned son and daughter were making out because they couldn’t wait to get to the Greenbrier, resort of choice to a profligate administration who would never stay in a Hampton Inn, was hijacked by a dangerous band of White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants. We don’t get to find out who these people are as of the end of the first installment, but they’re no doubt hired by the former executives of Enron, or something equally inane.
Sure enough, New York is threatened, because what more hackneyed metaphor is there than the Statue of Liberty toppling over? These Hollywood cranks seem to love that one. In my mind, it is fully equivalent to Godzilla stepping on Tokyo. But before we get to the Statue of Liberty, let’s consider one of Gina’s classic lines, as she monitors the impending disaster in the Big Apple from her docile domicile in DC. “Come on, New York. Show ’em how tough you are!” Cut to a nighttime shot of Times Square, where a massive storm surge is inundating all the taxicabs on Broadway. And, yes, at the very end, to generate some much needed suspense, the Stature of Liberty’s torch-gripping forearm comes hurtling groundward, directly toward a couple of the minor characters who had just sent up a data gathering rocket into the mezzafear. We won’t get to see whether they were squashed as if by a giant fly swatter until we tune into the next episode. That is, if we even care.
This made-for-TV movie was so awful that apparently, Sony wouldn’t even pay for a plug—every time a TV is pictured, there is a piece of black tape hiding the Sony logo beneath the screen. It’s really sad to see the depths to which The Tiffany Network, the network of Murrow, CBS, has sunk. Unless I have nothing better to do or unless I’m looking for some laughs, I doubt that I’ll be watching the conclusion.
Well, I lied. I actually did watch the conclusion. And I reviewed it here. —TNT