Eve of Destruction
(Part 1) Friday, April 12; (Part 2) Saturday, April 13
ReelzChannel, 8pm ET/5pm PT (with encore airings at 1am ET/10pm PT)
Well, you just knew they weren’t going to get away with all that Large Hadron Collider business and not spawn a disaster movie or two, right? Not with all that talk about uncovering the secrets of the origins of the universe, with just a slight chance of creating a black hole and instantly ending all life on earth.
I won’t pretend to fully (or much less than partially) understand the science behind it all, but it’s undoubtedly a topic ripe for the disaster-movie pickings. ReelzChannel gets the ball rolling with the two-part Eve of Destruction, which stars Steven Weber (Wings) as Karl Dameron, a brilliant but singular-minded physicist who — along with his partner Rachel Bannister (Christina Cox) — is thisclose to realizing his dream of creating a machine that will “harvest a limited pool of dark energy, and serve to power our world forever.” They work for a stereotypically slimy multinational corporation called the Proteus Group, headed by the especially oily Max Salinger (Treat Williams), for whom of course profits and worldwide adoration trump all concerns for safety.
And that’s too bad, because this sort of thing has gone poorly in the past. Put another way, it wiped an entire Russian town off the map. Modest power-grid lineman Ruslan (Aleks Paunovic) saw it firsthand, as his wife and child perished in the accident. He now has relocated to Denver, remarried and works for Proteus. When he starts to suspect his new employer is trying to build the same type of accelerator machine that ruined his former life, he desperately attempts to get someone — anyone — to listen. Meanwhile, Karl has family troubles of his own, being a widower raising a teenage daughter, Ruby (Jessica McLeod), who resents his neglect of her in favor of his work. She also has moral objections to what Proteus is doing to the earth, and is very tempted when an eco-terrorist group comes a-calling.
So yeah, lots of drama surrounding all this end-of-the-world stuff. Like the machine that causes all the trouble, Eve of Destruction has such great potential, but while its execution certainly isn’t on the level of a global catastrophe, it does eventually fly apart at the seams. In addition to feeling hopelessly padded by Hour 4, part of the problem is that despite the otherworldly subject we’re dealing with, the actual action scenes are notably pedestrian. Really, it all comes down to Weber putting on a HAZMAT suit and pushing a big iron tube around while dodging CGI electric volts. And then there’s the unfortunate image of him and his lady on a motorcycle trying to outrun the accelerator explosion.
But the acting is pretty good for this sort of thing, and the father-daughter story comes off as far more nuanced than it probably had to be. The best part, though, is all the junk-movie science you’ll digest will still make you feel pretty smart.