Terry Kelleher
June 10, 2002 12:00 PM

TBS (Sun., June 9, 8 p.m. ET)

Oh, sure. The press release says it’s a “horrifying tale,” combining “the excitement of Twister with the nail-biting suspense of The China Syndrome.” But going by the cute way the title seems to blow off the screen during the opening credits, I decided to look at this TV movie as intentionally spoofy rather than hootably bad. That’s the charitable interpretation, and I’m sticking to it.

Sharon Lawrence (formerly of NYPD Blue) portrays a single mom who works at a nuclear power plant in Tennessee. Current Blue cop Mark-Paul Gosselaar costars as her neighbor, a deputy sheriff and ladies’ man. While Lawrence is supervising a skeleton crew on the Saturday shift, a couple of tornadoes visit the plant uninvited. The first sucks a hapless security guard way up in the air, ending a quickie acting job by ex-Olympic speedster Carl Lewis. The second prompts a goofy young employee in a Kiss T-shirt to warn, “This is gonna make Chernobyl look like a firecracker!”

The script is filled with clichéd scenes (count on Gosselaar to win back an ex-girlfriend’s love by saving her life) and dialogue (Lawrence’s boss, just when a Chernobyl sequel appears to have been averted: “We’re not out of this yet, not by a long shot!”). Still, the film gives us an occasional wink that may signal permission to laugh whenever we please. What game do you think Lawrence’s son and the babysitter are playing just before the high winds hit the house? Twister, of course.

While Gosselaar makes his heroic rounds and Lawrence gets to be strong and emotional, Corbin Bernsen is stuck playing the sheriff back at the office. His only hope for action is L.A. Law Reunion II: The Earthquake.

Bottom Line: Won’t blow you away

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