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Archive for Saturday, November 22, 2008

Brolin lost in a watery world

November 22, 2008

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Blending the three main branches of popular paranoia — Global warming, the Rapture and “Da Vinci Code” mumbo-jumbo — the 2008 made-for-TV thriller “Lost City Raiders” (8 p.m., today, Sci Fi) stars James Brolin as a seagoing scavenger trying to make a better life for himself and his sons in a drowning world.

Set 40 years in the future, after radical shifts in the sea level known as “the Rising,” “Raiders” offers a special effects-enhanced view of Los Angeles, Rome, Dresden and other great cities under water. Tired of living like a parasite and plundering soggy treasure, Pa Kubiak (Brolin) decides to work gratis for a Cardinal in Rome who believes that a legendary ancient scepter can reverse the rising tides. This charity comes as a surprise to his two sons, the brash and handsome Jack (Ian Somerhalder) and Thomas (Jamie Thomas King), the brooding brainy one who reads Latin and wears glasses.

The Kubiak’s quest lead us on a series of underwater treasure hunts and a cat-and-mouse game with nefarious agents who sport sunglasses indoors and affect German accents.

And like virtually every Sci Fi Channel movie, the action begins only when curvaceous women arrive on the scene — in this case, a buxom bar wench as well as a brainiac from Berlin — one for each of the Kubiac boys. And just in time to save the world.

• “24: Redemption” (7 p.m., Sunday, Fox) should be called “24: Disappointment.” It deviates from the “24” formula in both tone and structure, leaving me afraid for the franchise’s future.

As “Redemption” begins, Bauer is at work at a school for orphans in a war-torn African nation. He’s hiding from American justice and, like his friend (Robert Carlyle), he appears to be doing penance for his transgressions. The sappy theme music and lingering shots of Jack’s sad eyes suggest as much.

Things change abruptly when a vicious warlord arrives to kidnap children to fight in his guerilla army. Back in Washington, a new president (Cherry Jones) is about to take office, an event complicated by her son’s connection to a former employee of a corrupt arms dealer (Jon Voight) with shadowy links to the evil warlord.

“24” debuted shortly after 9/11 and often reflected its times.

It remains to be seen how “24” will adjust to a new political era and administration. In places, “Redemption” has all the subtlety of “Red Dawn.” A U.N. observer is depicted as a backstabbing, cowardly weasel. An act of presidential weakness results in scenes of chaos, refugees and rooftop helicopters at an American embassy, just like Saigon ’75.

Today’s highlights

• Scheduled on “48 Hours Mystery” (9 p.m., CBS): a broker accused of murder.

• Tim McGraw hosts “Saturday Night Live” (10:30 p.m., NBC), featuring musical guest T-Pain with Ludacris.

Sunday’s highlights

• Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): a break-in at a South African nuclear facility; deporting the foreign-born widows of American citizens; a musical savant.

• A team stiffs a cab driver and pays the price on “The Amazing Race” (7 p.m., CBS).

• A treacherous trip to tribal territory on “The Unit” (9 p.m., CBS).

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