Screensavors: Sinking to new lows

We must sink the dreadful miniseries 'The Triangle' before it sinks us all.

triangle 88 (photo credit: )
triangle 88
(photo credit: )
Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! We must sink the dreadful miniseries The Triangle before it sinks us all. It isn't every day that we sail directly into such TV flotsam as this new Xtra HOT Friday night travesty, but hey, it's not every miniseries that conjures up poor Christopher Columbus to sell us a bunch of balderdash, either. But this one has no shame in reaching for the deepest depths of miniseries awfulness, as if drawn down by the very Bermuda Triangle it's about. So there was no surprise that the opening featured lots of music and ominous clouds, designed to telegraph to dimwit viewers who haven't already figured it out that something creepy was about to happen on the Sargasso Sea. And so it did. Because before you could say Macy's White Sale, there was the captain of a Middle Age sailing ship himself, watching members of his crew having their entrails suddenly sucked out in the storm, then seeing a huge modern cruise ship sail right by them. "Quick! Alert the Nina and the Pinta!" says the captain, before the graphic hits with a thud: OCTOBER 11, 1492. Get it? That was CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS! Yes, that's pretty much the subtlety level of this three-part series about a very wealthy shipping magnate (Sam Neill) whose ships keep disappearing down the black hole of the Bermuda Triangle, and who's determined to get to the bottom of this, so to speak. Neill, who's become the High Priest of Miniseries, appearing in dozens of them since his Jurassic Park days, assembles his version of The A Team to look into the phenomenon: There's Bruce Geller, an adventurous expert meteorologist; Stan Lathem (Bruce Davison), a psychic; Emily Patterson, a scientist, and Howard Thomas (Eric Stoltz), a tabloid journalist. Neill's offering $5 million each if they can tell him what happened to his ships, but the script's a waterlogged mess. It's bad enough when Neill, as millionaire Eric Benirall, asks upon gathering the team: "Exactly how much do you know about [DRAMATIC PAUSE]... the Bermuda Triangle??!!" [CUE SCARY MUSIC]. "This is a journey, a quest for truth... THE TRUTH," says Benirall. There are, of course, subplots. A Greenpeace crew disappears similarly after chasing a whaler off Miami. The only survivor is Meeno (Lou Diamond Phillips, also a regular miniseries man), who was piloting the Greenpeace motorboat when disaster strikes. Now he can't remember his younger son's name, or (gasp) how to play computer games with the kid anymore. It's like something SUCKED PART OF HIS MEMORY AWAY!!!! Cheesy stuff, huh? But that wasn't half as bad as the look on Stan's face when, as he and the team are preparing to fly off to their operations center, he sees a little girl with her parents and gets a FEELING that something bad is going to happen. It looked like he'd been frightened by a... bad miniseries! A short time later he mutters: "Something's... happened," and darn if he isn't right - the little girl's plane has crashed after running into a squadron of World War II bombers over... well, you know the rest. Of course, Stan knows the girl is the only survivor ("Someone's... alive!") She's rescued, but now, SHE'S AN OLD WOMAN... Soon, Stan's not alone - everyone's seeing things, including Benirall, or not seeing them - Bruce can't see himself in the mirror when our heroes jump aboard an old Russian submarine to explore the depths more closely. After losing their engines, the sub surfaces, where our heroes, who had decided the whole business was due to "worm holes" in time, allowing items from different eras to move about, are suddenly the focus of a huge light from the sky. "Anyone got a theory on this one?" asks Emily. Well, our theory is that the folks who made this shipwreck of a miniseries (Bryan Singer of X Men and Dean Devlin of Independence Day and Godzilla) for the SciFi Channel thought they could get by on special effects and creepiness. Sorry guys, it didn't work. The acting is awful, and the script springs holes even a veteran sailor couldn't plug. Steer clear, unless you're looking to drown in cliches.