×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pandemic

As in the glorious disaster movies of the 1970s, "Pandemic," an original for Hallmark Channel, is chock full of stars -- some legendary, some B-list, with melodrama a-plenty.

With:
Dr. Kayla Martin - Tiffani Thiessen Troy Whitlock - Vincent Spano Dr. Carl Ratner - French Stewart Dr. Sorkosky - Bob Gunton Mayor Richard Dellasandro - Eric Roberts Gov. Lillian Shaefer - Faye Dunaway Edward Vicente - Michael Massee Dr. Ito - Clyde Kusatsu Kenneth Friedlander - Bruce Boxleitner Jack Hendler - Robert Curtis Brown Kathryn Hadorn - Renee Taylor Melissa Lo - Tamlyn Tomita

Just in time for spring cleaning season comes this motivational tale about deadly germs and the careless people who spread them. Director Armand Mastroianni, working from an ambitious script by Bryce and Jackie Zabel, throws in a few modern-day plot twists into the old school disaster formula for hokey, hypochondria-inducing fun. As in the glorious disaster movies of the 1970s, “Pandemic,” an original for Hallmark Channel, is chock full of stars — some legendary, some B-list, with melodrama a-plenty.

Trouble starts with a missing dog, a dead bird and a gnarly surfer dude returning from Australia with the world’s worst souvenir — a deadly virus. Just when you thought it was safe to get on a plane again, Mastroianni makes sure the camera follows the nasty, infectious little buggers as they travel mouth to hand, through the air and onto clothes. Airplane bathrooms — don’t even go there. Turns out the little curtain that separates First Class from the unwashed masses is just for show.

The Germs on a Plane approach is skin-crawlingly effective; the aircraft sets down in Los Angeles with one dead surfer and several sick passengers.

Dr. Kayla Martin (Tiffani Thiessen) has to convince the reluctant mayor to close the beaches — er — quarantine the plane. Mayor Dellasandro (Eric Roberts), in the midst of a power struggle with Gov. Lillian Shaefer (Faye Dunaway), moves cautiously, considering his hopes to take her job in the next election. Complicating matters is a crackerjack reporter following the story and an incarcerated drug kingpin who, along with a particularly annoying Brentwood Realtor, will do anything to escape quarantine.

Pic, which clocks in at three hours, starts off with gusto, but loses momentum and continuity by the second half. The Zabels’ script is highly character-driven, mimicking the ensemble storylines that made films like “Crash” so engrossing. For the most part, the device works, although as the tale goes on, the pathology of the virus mutates, as does the notion of dramatic license.

Throughout the quarantine, FBI agent Troy Whitlock (Vincent Spano) on the scene to keep an eye on his high-profile prisoner, instead hangs with the scientists, peeking in microscopes and hitting on Dr. Martin. Other passenger/patients walk about unaccounted for, taking pictures and spreading conspiracy theories among other things.

Even though Martin astutely points out that, “take a few letters out of Pandemic, and you get panic,” no one strains any acting muscles here. With most American already well-aware of the dangers of Ebola or even the West Nile virus couldn’t Mastroianni elicit a little more emotion from his troupe? When Mayor Dellasandro gets the news that 6,000 have died from the virus, he casually replies “Geez, that seems high.” Ya think?

However, if there’s an award for best acting with eyebrows only, Theissan’s got it nailed. The actress spends the majority of the film in Hazmat gear or with a mask on her face and still manages to look great.

“Pandemic” does win points for not being heavyhanded; for the most part, it’s all in good germy fun — although Gov. Shaefer’s wrap-up speech feels a little too much like an ad for big pharmaceuticals.

Pandemic

Hallmark Channel; May 26, 8 p.m.

Production: Filmed on location in Los Angeles by RHI Entertainment, Silverstar Prods. in association with Larry Levinson Prods. Executive producers, Robert Halmi Jr., Levinson; producers, James Wilberger, Kyle Clark; director, Armand Mastroianni; writers, Bryce Zabel, Jackie Zabel.

Crew: Camera, Amit Bhattacharya; editor, Jennifer Jean Cacavas; casting, Penny Perry, Amy Reece. Running time: 3 HOURS.

Cast: Dr. Kayla Martin - Tiffani Thiessen Troy Whitlock - Vincent Spano Dr. Carl Ratner - French Stewart Dr. Sorkosky - Bob Gunton Mayor Richard Dellasandro - Eric Roberts Gov. Lillian Shaefer - Faye Dunaway Edward Vicente - Michael Massee Dr. Ito - Clyde Kusatsu Kenneth Friedlander - Bruce Boxleitner Jack Hendler - Robert Curtis Brown Kathryn Hadorn - Renee Taylor Melissa Lo - Tamlyn Tomita

More TV

  • ‘Riviera’ Renewed for Season 3 at

    ‘Riviera’ With Julia Stiles Renewed for Season 3 at Sky

    Sky has ordered a third season of “Riviera” with filming starting this fall. Julia Stiles will return as Georgina Clios and the action is set to move from France’s Cote d’Azur to an international stage. Stiles will also exec produce the new season, which was announced soon after season two launched on U.K. pay-TV platform [...]

  • Ari Emanuel Endeavor

    Endeavor IPO Filing Offers Details of Company's Financials, Leadership Pay Packages

    Endeavor’s IPO filing Thursday offers a hard look at the company’s financial performance during the past three years during a period of rapid growth for the company that’s home to UFC, WME, Professional Bull Riders and a clutch of other assets. Endeavor is generating solid free cash flow from operations and healthy adjusted earnings for [...]

  • Blake Jenner What If TV Show

    'What/If' Star Blake Jenner on Creating Chemistry With Jane Levy, Renee Zellweger

    Blake Jenner first rose to fame in 2012 when he won “The Glee Project” and therefore earned a role on “Glee” proper. In the years since, though, he graduated from teen heartthrob status to meatier, edgier roles in films such as “American Animals” and now the Netflix limited series “What/If,” in which he stars opposite [...]

  • Mario Lopez Candy Crush

    Mario Lopez, Seth Kurland Set Latinx Family Comedy Series at Netflix

    Mario Lopez and Seth Kurland are teaming up for a new comedy series at Netflix. Variety has learned that the streamer has given a 16 episode order to the multi-cam comedy “The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia” co-created by Lopez and Kurland. In the series, when Ashley Garcia — the world’s only 15-and-a-half-year-old robotics engineer [...]

  • HBO logo

    TV News Roundup: HBO Announces Recipients of 2019 HBOAccess Writing Fellowship

    In today’s roundup, Fox Nation announces a fresh slate of programming for the summer and HBO announces the recipients of its HBOAccess Writing Fellowship. DEVELOPMENT: HBO has announced the recipients of its 2019 HBOAccess Writing Fellowship. The eight writers selected out of the 3,000 submissions will participate in an 8-month program of master classes and [...]

  • Big Bang Theory

    'Big Bang Theory,' 'Manifest' Among Top Live+7 Gainers of 2018-2019 Season

    With 2018-2019 broadcast season wrapping up, certain shows stand head and shoulders above their competition in the Nielsen Live+7 rankings. Live+7 data is currently available only through May 5, but the top dogs will likely see little change once the final numbers are in for the traditional September-May season. The top gainer in adults 18-49 [...]

  • Anna Kendrick Paul Feig

    Anna Kendrick, Paul Feig Team for Comedy Anthology Series at WarnerMedia Streaming Service

    Anna Kendrick and Paul Feig are coming to the WarnerMedia streaming service Variety has learned that the upcoming streamer has ordered the romantic comedy anthology series “Love Life,” the first season of which will star Kendrick with Feig executive producing. WarnerMedia has ordered a 10-episode first season of the half-hour series. Lionsgate Television and FeigCo [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content