- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gloom and doom

Disaster reigns supreme on consecutive weekends, with current ratings champ CBS loosing the finale of its gimmick-laden miniseries “Category 7: The End of the World” on Sunday night at 9 and ratings-challenged NBC countering with a remake of 1972’s “The Poseidon Adventure” Nov. 20 at 9 p.m.

Part two of “Category,” which overcame execrable acting and over-the-top special effects to score respectable numbers for the Tiffany network Sunday, picks up where last week’s adventure ended: with newly appointed FEMA Director Judith Carr (Gina Gershon) and storm chasers Faith Clavell (Shannen Doherty) and Tommy Tornado (Randy Quaid) braced for the cataclysmic superstorm as it heads to the nation’s capital.

Swoosie Kurtz returns as Penny Hall, the manipulative televangelist whose husband, Donny (James Brolin) was killed by a bolt of lightning — struck down while practicing a speech that the pair had cooked up to exploit fears of the disaster.

Meanwhile, NBC attempts to revamp “Poseidon” with updated touches (such as Adam Baldwin playing an undercover agent for the Department of Homeland Security) while aalso raising the stakes — as if the capsizing of a 136,000-ton luxury ocean liner on New Year’s Eve weren’t enough — by bringing a terrorist aboard.

The new “Poseidon” cast, while credible, hardly matches the star power of the original, which included Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Roddy McDowell, Carol Lynley, Jack Albertson, an Oscar-nominated performance by Shelley Winters — and an Oscar-winning song (“The Morning After”) to boot.

This time around, Steve Guttenberg, Bryan Brown, Peter Weller, C. Thomas Howell, Alexa Hamilton and Sylvia Syms are among the unfortunate souls who join Mr. Baldwin on the ill-fated voyage. John Putch — whose credits to date include the film “Ghost Dog” and the sitcoms “Grounded for Life” and “Son of the Beach” — directs.

Elsewhere, cable’s Sci-Fi Channel gets in on the disaster action with “Locusts: The 8th Plague.”

The thriller, premiering tomorrow evening at 9, follows a swarm of bioengineered locusts that escape from a research lab and go on a flesh-eating rampage. Dan Cortese, Julie Benz and David Keith are the heroic trio that must stop the madness.

Examining Tourette’s

While other channels focus on manufactured tragedies of epic proportions, HBO Family turns its attention to a real-life dilemma that poses its own set of challenges with “I Have Tourette’s, but Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me.”

The touching 27-minute documentary, airing tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., examines a dozen children with Tourette’s syndrome — a disease often accompanied by involuntary facial tics and verbal outbursts — as they face the first few weeks in a new school.

Pay to replay

In separate announcements made earlier this week, NBC and CBS plan to offer their top programs — such as “CSI” — commercial-free through on-demand providers for 99 cents each within hours of their original airtime.

NBC’s agreement is with DirecTV and also includes shows from its cable networks, such as USA, Sci Fi and Bravo. CBS’ deal is with Comcast and will include episodes of “CSI,” “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race” and other shows.

“The way people are consuming content is changing,” David Zaslav, president of NBC Universal Cable, told TVWeek.com. “Through this agreement with DirecTV, consumers will be able to watch top NBC content on demand for just 99 cents when they want, without commercials. It’s a huge sea change.”

The NBC offerings will be available only via the new DirecTV Plus interactive DVR receivers, due out this month. The CBS shows will be available on Comcast’s Video on Demand (VOD) service starting in January.

Both networks claim their deal was the first of its kind.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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