×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Without Warning

CBS' shot-on-videotape telefilm "Without Warning" masquerades as live news bulletins that portend global annihilation. The production, employing the cachet of regular newscasters playing themselves (among them Sander Vanocur, Bree Walker-Lampley, Sandy Hill and Warren Olney), is technically sharp as it pokes fun at the tabloids, but never quite jells as entertainment.

With:
Cast: Sander Vanocur, Jane Kaczmarek, Cynthia Allison, Ernie Anastos, Arthur C. Clarke, Sandy Hill, Michelle Holden, Warren Olney, Richard Saxton, Bree Walker-Lampley, Saida Pagan, Debra Snell, Dwier Brown, Randy Crowder, John De Lancie, Phillip Baker Hall, James Handy, Gina Hecht, Dennis Lipscomb, Brian McNamara, Marnie McPhail, James Morrison, Sherry Paysinger, Ashley Peldon, Jim Pirri, Kario Salem, Alan Scarfe, Patty Toy, Loni Anderson, Ed Marinaro, Bradley Whitford.

CBS’ shot-on-videotape telefilm “Without Warning” masquerades as live news bulletins that portend global annihilation. The production, employing the cachet of regular newscasters playing themselves (among them Sander Vanocur, Bree Walker-Lampley, Sandy Hill and Warren Olney), is technically sharp as it pokes fun at the tabloids, but never quite jells as entertainment.

A pseudo-vidpic, starring Loni Anderson and Ed Marinaro, is suddenly replaced by fastbreaking “reality”: In the wake of numbing graphics of an asteroid falling on desolate parts of the U.S., China and France, there are ever-widening signals of an alien invasion. “Warning” adds a workable plot point: The U.S. military invites disaster by using nuclear weapons against a peaceful alien mission, which turns ugly and retaliatory. The havoc in the show’s final minutes , complete with anchors breaking down on camera, may be overwrought, but the doomsday atmosphere is palpable.

Vanocur and his co-anchor (marvelously played by actress Jane Kaczmarek) are so busy cutting from one frantic, international correspondent to another, and from NASA PR types to sci-fi celebrities (Arthur C. Clarke), gung-ho joint chiefs and even President Clinton (in stock footage), that the effect is exhausting.

Peter Lance and Jeremy Thorn’s teleplay, under Robert Iscove’s direction, means to emphasize the helter-skelter nature of the newsroom in a crisis, but this pic is all soundbite and wrenching crowd scenes, without the stamp of individual characters.

Show was broadcast on the anniversary of the real panic that accompanied Orson Welles’ 1938 Mercury Theater production, “War of the Worlds.”

Just in case there are believers out there, “Without Warning” is frequently interrupted by a silent crawl across the bottom of the screen reminding viewers: “This is a fictional broadcast. None of what you are seeing is actually happening.”

On Sunday night, minutes after the vidpic ended, KCBS newswoman Penny Griego stated on the 11 p.m. news, “Dozens of calls came into the Channel 2 newsroom.” Only dozens? Not that anyone expected a mediasavvy audience to actually fall for the premise of a Sunday network movie being interrupted by strange happenings from outer space. But, boy, that aborted movie with Anderson and Marinaro in the sack sure looked like a real TV movie.

Without Warning

(Sun. (30), 9-11 p.m., CBS)

Production: Taped in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York and Sri Lanka by the Wolper Organization and Warner Bros. Television. Exec producers, David Wolper, Mark Wolper. Producers, Nancy Platt Jacoby, Robert Iscove. Director, Iscove; writers, Peter Lance, Jeremy Thorn.

Crew: Camera, John Beymer; editor, Martin Nicholson; production designer, Richard Lewis; sound, Damon Lance; music, Craig Safan.

Cast: Cast: Sander Vanocur, Jane Kaczmarek, Cynthia Allison, Ernie Anastos, Arthur C. Clarke, Sandy Hill, Michelle Holden, Warren Olney, Richard Saxton, Bree Walker-Lampley, Saida Pagan, Debra Snell, Dwier Brown, Randy Crowder, John De Lancie, Phillip Baker Hall, James Handy, Gina Hecht, Dennis Lipscomb, Brian McNamara, Marnie McPhail, James Morrison, Sherry Paysinger, Ashley Peldon, Jim Pirri, Kario Salem, Alan Scarfe, Patty Toy, Loni Anderson, Ed Marinaro, Bradley Whitford.

More TV

  • Star Trek: Picard - Logo ©

    'Star Trek: Picard' Drops First Teaser Trailer, Poster (Watch)

    CBS All Access has released the first look at “Star Trek: Picard,” the new series that will see Sir Patrick Stewart reprise the iconic role of Jean-Luc Picard. Little is known about the plot of the series other than it is said to tell the story of the next chapter of Picard’s life. Stewart played [...]

  • SYDNEY TO THE MAX - Disney

    'Sydney to the Max' Renewed for Season 2 at Disney Channel (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Sydney to the Max” has been renewed for a second season at Disney Channel, Variety has learned exclusively. The series is set in the present day with flashbacks to the 1990s and follows outgoing middle schooler Sydney Reynolds (Ruth Righi) who lives with her single dad Max (Ian Reed Kesler) in the house he grew up [...]

  • CNN Will Test Comedy With Colin

    CNN Will Test Comedy With Colin Quinn Special

    On many days, wringing humor out of the current news cycle seems a fruitless task. CNN is going to give it a try. On Monday at 9 p.m. – in the last hours of Memorial Day – the cable-news outlet will air an hour-long show featuring comedian Colin Quinn, who will perform a version of [...]

  • Netflix Unveils Lonely Island Musical Tribute

    Netflix Unveils Lonely Island Musical Tribute to Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire

    The Lonely Island comedy troupe has dropped a half-hour Netflix special featuring a musical tribute to baseball greats Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. “The Lonely Island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience” features Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer as the former Oakland Athletics teammates who became known as “the Bash Brothers” for their prowess at [...]

  • Netflix's Clarence Avant Doc 'Black Godfather'

    Barack Obama, P. Diddy, David Geffen Hail 'Black Godfather' Clarence Avant in Netflix Doc (Watch)

    The first trailer for “The Black Godfather,” Reginald Hudlin’s documentary about black entertainment trailblazer Clarence Avant, has been released. The film features interviews with Snoop Dogg, P. Diddy, David Geffen, Clive Davis, Diane Warren, Lionel Richie and Irving Azoff, among other industry titans. Former president Barack Obama also makes an appearance. Hudlin spent three years [...]

  • BBC Studios Names Anna Cronin Digital

    BBC Studios Names Anna Cronin Digital Content Director (EXCLUSIVE)

    Anna Cronin has been upped to director of digital content at BBC Studios, a new role at the production and distribution arm of the U.K. pubcaster. The position is within BBC Studios’ content partnerships division, which oversees the company’s programming and IP partnerships. Cronin will work with U.K. and international partners, and notably those in [...]

  • HBO Europe,The Mediapro Studio Lacoproductora Team

    HBO Europe, The Mediapro Studio, Lacoproductora Team On Comedy Series 'Whatever'

    HBO Europe is adding to its growing Spanish slate with “Por H o por B” (“Whatever”), a comedy series produced by Globomedia, part of TV giant The Mediapro Studio, and new Madrid-based company Lacoproductora. Written and directed by Manuela Burló Moreno, the 10-episode half-hour takes the characters from her Goya-nominated short film “Pipas,” with actresses [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content