By Terry Kelleher
May 18, 1998 12:00 PM

ABC (Sun.-Mon., May 17-18, 9 p.m. ET)

Something’s out there in the deep, something bent on devouring seafarer and landlubber alike. One man, one scientifically enlightened man, appreciates the danger. But do the people believe him? No way, sailor. This is another fish (or mammal) story from Peter Benchley, author of Jaws and Beast. It’s a mini-series adapted from his 1994 novel White Shark, and it’s filled with all those familiar fright scenes that make you afraid to go back in the water. But once the plot hooks you, you’ll probably hang in—until you grow frustrated by the stalling tactics so typical of two-hour dramas forced to fill four hours of prime sweeps-month time.

Craig T. Nelson (Coach) stars as a researcher using an abandoned Navy lab in the Caribbean. Nelson discovers that the Navy boys developed a terrifying hybrid—part shark, part heaven-knows-what—as a potential secret weapon during the Vietnam War. Well, the thing’s still around, and it’s eating people. The local constable (Blu Mankuma) rejects Nelson’s warnings, while a sinister admiral (Colm Feore) wants to kill the creature just so he can bury the truth. At least Nelson’s ex-wife (Kim Cattrall), a fellow scientist, is on his side—when she’s not shooting barbs his way. Part 1 draws the battle lines reasonably well, but Part 2 contains too much dilatory foolishness, including a voodoo ceremony, a little romance between Nelson’s son (Matthew Carey) and a pretty island teen (Megalyn Echikunwoke), and considerable howling and gibbering by “Werewolf” (Giancarlo Esposito), an ex-Navy officer driven haywire by his guilty knowledge of the hybrid experiment.

Bottom Line: Don’t take the bait