Jim: Here's a review of the movie. Take care. Mar
TV Review: 'Homeland Security' too close to home
Friday, April 09, 2004
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ah, a failed series pilot recycled as a TV movie. Networks don't do that often enough anymore, and it's a shame, because then viewers get to see the shows that weren't good enough to make the prime-time series schedule.
We all see what does end up on the air, which makes failed pilots telling: They're either brilliant and of the too-smart-for-TV variety or they're just real stinkers.
NBC's "Homeland Security," airing Sunday at 9 p.m. as a two-hour TV movie, is the latter.
Set before, on and after Sept. 11, 2001, this busted pilot chronicles the creation the Office of Homeland Security. It's not set in a parallel universe -- Gov. Tom Ridge is mentioned frequently -- and it focuses on Adm. Theodore McKee (Tom Skerritt), who's preparing to end his service to the country just before 9/11.
That doesn't happen, of course. "Homeland Security" chronicles his attempts to bring together members of several government agencies in a coordinated effort to smoke out terrorists at home and abroad.
Mostly these two hours are all set-up, showing each of the eventual team members at work individually. They include a CIA field operative (Grant Show), a CIA bureaucrat (Scott Glenn) and a national security expert (Leland Orser).
The program begins pre-9/11 with scenes of an Arab man at the controls of a small plane. His instructor calls the FBI to complain the guy was more interested in learning to aim a plane than to fly it.
Similarly, Show's CIA spy gets warnings from a reliable source, who says, "This time your country bleeds."
It's all an effort to depict the need for the coordination, cooperation and communication that were lacking in the pre-9/11 era, bolstering the case for Homeland Security.
Then on the morning of Sept. 11, McKee's daughter boards Flight 93.
Some viewers will simply object to the subject matter, which turns the 9/11 tragedies into popular entertainment. And it's true, we're not far enough removed from that sad day for it to somehow be OK (unlike, say, Civil War movies, JFK's assassination, etc.). But that's not my problem with "Homeland Security." The bigger issue is that it's just too on-the-nose, too predictable, too TV.
At the end, McKee gives an attempt at a rousing speech, encouraging the employees of various government agencies to take a chance on his start-up. In response, one recruit says, "I'm in," which leads to a chorus of "I'm ins" from the assembled crowd. Who couldn't have seen that coming?
I suppose the program deserves credit for its willingness to push buttons. An Arab-American is revealed to be a terrorist (liberals cringe!). McKee frets about trampling civil liberties after 9/11 (conservatives convulse!). But even that seems a little calculated. Should "Homeland Security" have become a series? Probably not. It appears that it would have been like CBS's short-lived CIA drama "The Agency," which began well but ultimately was ruined by TV gimmicks, romance among CIA agents topping its list of missteps.