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Category 7: The End of the World

The sheer inanity of this monster-hurricane sequel to "Category 6: Day of Destruction" should quickly defuse concerns about the propriety of airing it, given its proximity to recent events.

The sheer inanity of this monster-hurricane sequel to “Category 6: Day of Destruction” should quickly defuse concerns about the propriety of airing it, given its proximity to recent events. In fact, having the hero not only be the director of FEMA but the sexiest government official ever simply adds to the camp factor in this blustery two-parter, where Paris gets demolished before the opening credits and the science would be ridiculed at an “intelligent design” seminar. It’s hard to fault CBS for dipping into the fertile disaster well again, but “Category 7” blows and then some.

Gina Gershon plays newly named FEMA director Judith Carr, who has the misfortune to land the job immediately after the whole Category 6 mess. The weather gods remain angry, however, with a special affinity for destroying international landmarks, from Mount Rushmore to the Pyramids.

Fortunately, Carr’s college boyfriend Ross (Cameron Daddo) is a brilliant but discredited scientist who has been tracking these peculiar weather patterns and developing a method to diagnose what’s responsible for the shattering storm fronts. So Carr expands FEMA’s scope to try predicting when disaster will strike, with Ross bringing in a pair of storm chasers (Shannen Doherty and Randy Quaid, the latter reprising his role as Tornado Tommy) to collect data on the twisters.

“Category 7” would be odd enough if the movie confined itself to that, but things go from bad to completely weird, incorporating a subplot about a pair of televangelists (James Brolin and Swoosie Kurtz) tapping into fear of nature’s fury, as well as a mass kidnapping of government officials’ kids.

Before it all blows (and blows and blows) over, Judith will enlist her U.S. senator father (Robert Wagner) to assist her cause, and myopic government bureaucrats will cover their asses by blocking the scientists’ effort to blunt the massive storm due to decimate Washington. There will also be plenty of lame dialogue, such as, “Let’s lose the male bonding and get back to saving the world.”

Nothing might be stranger here than the Quaid-Doherty pairing, though at least they’re integral to the plot. By contrast, the mini-soap regarding Judith and Ross’s imperiled teenage kids comes across as demographically desirable filler between blowing up miniatures.

Although most of “Category 7” proves too silly to be offensive, the exaggerated destruction won’t stop some conservatives from feeling slighted by the dismissive attitude toward evangelical preachers and propagandistic global-warming message. That said, Brolin is a bit of a hoot with his silvery mane and white suits, complete with his Reagan head bob.

Ultimately, this is really just “The Weekend Before the Day After Tomorrow.” Yet perhaps because of the cathartic release they provide, recent disaster epics have proved popular enough to beget more, with NBC’s aftershock mini “10.5: Apocalypse” also due this season.

Then again, the thirst for escapist mayhem is nothing new, and no one will confuse “Category 7” with CNN. Even so, I kept waiting for a fictional president to tell Gershon’s character, “Judy, you’re doin’ a heck of a job.”

Category 7: The End of the World

CBS, Sun. Nov. 6 & 13, 9 p.m.

  • Production: Filmed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, by Von Zerneck/Sertner Films. Executive producers, Robert M. Sertner, Frank von Zerneck; co-executive producer, Randy Sutter; producers, Leslie Oswald, Peter Sadowski; director, Dick Lowry; writers, Christian Ford, Roger Soffer.
  • Crew: Camera, Neil Roach; production design, Sheila Haley; editor, Tod Feuerman; music, Joseph Stanley Williams; visual effects supervisor, Craig Weiss; casting, Susan Glicksman, Clare Walker, Jim Heber. 4 HOURS
  • Cast: Judith Carr - Gina Gershon Ross Duffy - Cameron Daddo Faith Clavell - Shannen Doherty Tornado Tommy - Randy Quaid Donny Hall - James Brolin Penny Hall - Swoosie Kurtz Ryan Carr - Robert Wagner Ritter - Adam Rodriguez Gavin - Sebastian Spence Monty - Nicholas Lea Jim Roberts - John Kapelos Col. Mike Davis - Tom Skerritt