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Lie Down with Lions

It's back to the drawing board for Lifetime, which hatches a rotten egg with its first original miniseries. The project might have looked promising on paper, what with a veteran cast and a story adapted from a Ken Follett novel, plus location shooting in scenic Luxembourg. But the finished result is flat, uninspired and gruelling, not to mention stylistically amateurish and dated.

With:
Cast: Timothy Dalton, Marg Helgenberger, Nigel Havers, Omar Sharif, Kabir Bedi, Phillipe Leroy-Beaulieu, Jurgen Prochnow, Laura Perramond.

It’s back to the drawing board for Lifetime, which hatches a rotten egg with its first original miniseries. The project might have looked promising on paper, what with a veteran cast and a story adapted from a Ken Follett novel, plus location shooting in scenic Luxembourg. But the finished result is flat, uninspired and gruelling, not to mention stylistically amateurish and dated.

Timothy Dalton’s CIA agent and Nigel Havers’ doctor-turned-Russian-spy both love and deceive a spirited nurse, played by Marg Helgenberger. Passion, deceit and shattering truths lead the trio from a comfortable life in Luxembourg to the war-torn lands of Azerbaijan and Armenia.

There, brutal Russian forces are raping the peasants and chasing down Omar Sharif’s jaunty Muslim leader, who holds the key to rich oil supplies.

Being sure to cover all bases, the plot throws in a baby, which Dalton and Helgenberger cart over mountaintops as a rogue Russian (the sneering Jurgen Prochnow) pursues them in a chopper.

Sharif brings some flavor to the mini but, oddly, the acting is so uneventful that a supporting character who could almost qualify as a spearholder — a hulking Muslim bodyguard endearingly played by Kabir Bedi — steals the acting honors, closely followed by Prochnow’s hissable villain.

As for Dalton, Havers and Helgenberger, they could just as well have phoned in their roles, no thanks to Guy Andrews and Julian Bond’s stupifying, by-the-numbers script and Jim Goddard’s lethargic direction.

Lie Down with Lions

(Sun. (12), 7-11 p.m, Lifetime)

Production: Filmed in Luxembourg by Hannibal Films Ltd. in association with Delux Prods. and Anabase Prods. Exec producers, Fabrizio Chiesa, Roman Schroeder, Davis Evans; producer, Geoffrey Reeve; director, Jim Goddard; writers, Guy Andrews, Julian Bond, based on a novel by Ken Follett.

Crew: Camera, Eddy van der Enden; production designer, Morley Smith; sound, Brian Marshall.

Cast: Cast: Timothy Dalton, Marg Helgenberger, Nigel Havers, Omar Sharif, Kabir Bedi, Phillipe Leroy-Beaulieu, Jurgen Prochnow, Laura Perramond.

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