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The unprecedented success of USA's "The 4400", the death of reality television, rise of serial shows and the increasingly low cost of computer animated visual effects has given rise to a wonderful network fad for 2005 - the science fiction series. "Threshold" is CBS's entry into the year's 3-pronged alien invasion attack that also includes NBC's "Surface" and ABC's "Invasion". Its probably the cheapest, with a plot that hinders more on human action than visual effects and it is also the first to bite the network dust.
This is why there isn't more good, serious, comprehensive TV criticism. With a movie you at least get to see the whole thing, but with a series we're given a show and have it ripped from the line-up before the final episodes have aired and story has wrapped up. For what its worth, "Threshold" deserved the benefit of the doubt. Its not Shakespeare, even as science fiction shows go its on the campy side of a Sci-Fi channel original movie. But it is entertaining contemporary genre fair. Somewhere between the seriousness of "Invasion" and silly fun of "Surface".
But, 10 episodes. What the hell am I supposed to do with this, CBS?
The premise: a mutant infection is invading the human race, this time, however, the vehicle is auditory - through an alien frequency that plants itself in the brains of those with susceptible genetic dispositions and turns them into violent super-soldiers at worst (sort of "The X-Files" meets "28 Days Later ") and lumbering zombies at best. The entire crew of an ocean freight has been infected (as well as our heroes investigating them) and escaped into the population. Thankfully, scientist Molly Caffery (Carla Gugino, "Spin City") had devised a contingency plan that combats just such an invasion called Threshold, that involves quarantining subjects in a secret facility and... well, I'm not exactly sure what else.
Charles S. Dutton plays the typically gruff leader. Gugino makes a fine heroine, believably strong while going toe-to-toe with the super-soldiers. But Brent Spiner and Peter Dinklage lends some agreeably goofy life to the show as scientists with an endless supply of one liners. Uncharacteristic in usually serious science fiction shows, that quirky little attitude running through this show works for it and is what makes "Threshold" stand out well from the other network genre efforts.
* * ½ / 4
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