Take your basic feuding families (with offspring who can’t keep away from each other, and a mysterious, tragic link), add the seven deadly sins, mix in an attractive cast, throw in some outlandish plot twists and banal dialogue, top off with the breathtaking Caribbean Sea, and you have NBC’s “Trade Winds,” which doesn’t have the potency the ingredients would suggest.
The long-feuding Sommers and Philips family (Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is Christof Von Philips, patriarch of the latter) are fighting over the financially ailing Trade Winds luxury hotel, owned by divorced but cozy couple Rick and Grace Sommers (Stephen Meadows and Barbara Stock).
Scheming Robert Philips (an underused but effective John Beck) wants the hotel. Families are brought together by the affair between the improbably named adventurer Ocean Sommers(Michael McLafferty) and the newly engaged Maxine Philips (Michael Michele).
When not washing over Maxine, Ocean is diving for buried treasure with her brother Chris (Kent Burden). Chris’ grandfather, Christof, warns his grandson that he who hunts the treasure invites death into the house, and is proven to be right at the end of the first installment, which is planned as a six-hour miniseries.
Biggest problems are sluggish pacing and poor writing. Characters’ motives seem impossible to discern, due to poor direction, not their being inscrutably crafted.
Dialogue ranges from the ridiculous (“Way cool”) to the shamelessly bad (“The art of making a good Caribbean goat stew is like picking a good husband”).
Worst piece of writing, though, is Christof’s speech about meeting and eluding Death (the person, not the event) in the marketplace, only to have Death catch up with him later that night. It’s doubtful either Somerset Maugham or John O’Hara would be flattered by the rip-off of the prologue to “Appointment in Samarra.”
Still, some of the actors do well. Anita Morris, as Contessa Laetitia Gabetti Philips, has the best part, and is obviously having fun with it.
Gregory McKinney shines in the small part of casino manager Duncan Laurant. Biggest star, though, is the beautifully shot island. Kudos to cameraman Isidore Mankofsky.