Virus thriller "Carriers" should register healthy ratings for CBS, with its gripping concept, conspiracy-laden plot and top TV name Judith Light -- but her wooden perf nearly sinks the enterprise. Still, the bestseller status of the source material for "Carriers," which is more interesting than thrilling, should draw decent numbers.

Virus thriller “Carriers” should register healthy ratings for CBS, with its gripping concept, conspiracy-laden plot and top TV name Judith Light — but her wooden perf nearly sinks the enterprise. Still, the bestseller status of the source material for “Carriers,” which is more interesting than thrilling, should draw decent numbers.

Telepic begins in Africa, where a deadly Ebola-like virus has swept though a research facility. After a quick cut back to the U.S., a shipment of contaminated monkeys arrives from Africa, infecting two people.

Both die, and the dedicated Major Carmen Travis (Light) of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases is brought on the case. Together with partner Captain Arends (Bill Nunn), Travis unravels the mystery of the disease.

What makes “Carriers” compelling is its depiction of the way viruses travel — one day you’re unloading monkeys on a dock, the next, you’re dead, and anyone who’s breathed near you is infected. Director Alan Metzger does a good job of generating the tension inherent in such a beat-the-clock story, but he fails to elicit a sympathetic perf from Light, who mistakes stiff acting for military bearing.

Joyce Brotman’s smooth script glosses over science and leaves some questions hanging, but delivers a satisfying conclusion.

Nunn and Pamela Reed limn credible turns in underwritten roles.

Rest of tech credits are tops. But hypochondriacs beware.

Carriers

Thriller; CBS, Tues. Oct. 27, 9-11 p.m.

Production

Filmed in Charleston and Buford, S.C., by Rosemont Prods. Intl. Executive producer, David A. Rosemont; producers, Susan Zachary, David C. Thomas; co-producer, Michael Smeaton; director, Alan Metzger; writer, Joyce Brotman, based on the novel "Carriers" by Patrick Lynch; camera, Geoffrey Erb; editor, Mark Conte; production design, Philip Dean Foreman; sound, Jonathan Gaynor; music, Lori Slomka; casting, Penny Ellers. 2 HOURS.

Cast

Major Carmen Travis - Judith Light Holly Parker - Pamela Reed Colonel Bailey - Philip Bosco Captain Arends - Bill Nunn Martha Collin - Wilcox Paxton Frank Sanborn - Nicholas Pryor Tom Travis - Tucker Smith Alex Parker - Elke Larson Lucy Parker - Kylie Larson Sgt. Paul Lennox - Bill Robertson Dr. Peter Larrimore - Joe Inscoe Jonathan Parker Barry Bell With: Rob Dator, Robert Treveiler, Rhett Sanders, Chad Ayers, Maggie Fleming, Michael Burgess, Thomas Merdis, Wayne Caparas, Rachael Fedder, Ashley Josey, Kelly Jones-Gabriele, Deborah Hobart, Fred Holmes, Joy Vandervort-Cobb, Dorothy Recasner Brown, Bill Walsh, Mike Flippo, David Mitchell, Gina Felts.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more