September 11, 2000 12:00 PM

FOX (Wed.-Thurs., Sept. 13-14; 8 p.m. ET)

Mourning the deaths of his wife and daughter in an airliner crash, a former Seattle journalist (Billy Zane) spots a mysterious stranger (Gloria Reuben) photographing their gravestone. “We need to talk,” she tells him. “But not here and not now.”

There’s a tease for you. Reuben doesn’t return until the second night of this cockamamie miniseries (based on Dean Koontz’s novel), and Zane grows a bit testy as part 1 plows on. Impatient with an ex-investigator’s hints that sinister forces concealed the truth behind the Flight 353 disaster, he goes into a repetitious rant: “Tell me what is happening! What was it? Would somebody please tell me what it was? What’s happening?” FOX has asked reviewers not to “reveal any integral plot information,” but the network can’t sue me for disclosing that Reuben eventually spills the story’s preposterous secrets (with flashbacks) while directing Zane on a seemingly endless car trip. “Where the hell are we?” he asks. Somewhere in the realm of supernatural sci-fi on the border of gratuitous sadism. The latter is provided by John C. McGinley as an evil agent who relentlessly pursues Zane by helicopter and finds time to blind and shoot an inoffensive horse along the way.

Bottom Line: Barely survivable

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