Without a Trace
Murky mysteries in the Bermuda Triangle
I've become spoiled by Sci Fi Channel's annual December miniseries — not to be confused with Sci Fi's proudly pulpy, drive-in style, Saturday-night cheesefests with titles like Locusts: The 8th Plague
. (They stir fond childhood memories of Cincinnati's "Cool Ghoul" hosting Z-grade shockers every weekend.)
Sci Fi's minis are a different matter, often among the best and most ambitious TV-movies of the year, including the epic Taken, the robust Farscape sequel The Peacekeeper Wars and the Battlestar Galactica remake, which launched that darkly fascinating series.
So maybe my expectations were too high for The Triangle (Monday, Dec. 5, Tuesday, Dec. 6, and Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 9 pm/ET), a slick if overstuffed three-night thriller delving into the paranormal enigma of the Bermuda you-know-what. The setup gathers a group of misfit experts — echoing CBS' underrated Threshold — as a psychic (Bruce Davison), a tabloid reporter (Eric Stoltz), a deep-sea engineer (Catherine Bell) and a rugged meteorologist (Michael Rodgers) are hired by a shipping magnate (Sam Neill) to investigate this legend of vanished vessels in the North Atlantic.
The result is an entertaining mishmash that uneasily juggles jargony sci-fi theories with elements of military conspiracy, action-adventure, disaster movie and surreal psychological suspense. On the upside, there's more provocative substance than in halfbaked network claptrap like CBS' recent Category 7: The End of the World. And as waterlogged journeys go, this boasts a strong cast and writing that puts NBC's childishly inept Surface to shame.
Triangle may fall somewhat short of classic status, but it's not such a bad way to get lost this week (especially with Lost in post-sweeps repeats).
If Tyra Banks' America's Next Top Model did a crossover with Heidi Klum's Project Runway, what a gorgeously juicy reality show that would be. Returning on Bravo for a second season (Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 10 pm/ET), Runway took only about five minutes to get me addicted again to the spectacle of wannabe fashion designers struggling with frayed nerves and tempers in the face of deadline panic, with flashes of fabulous inspiration and (in one case) premature arrogance. "Pretty can be boring," gripes one of the judges, which is a label you'd never apply to Runway.