Picks and Pans Review: The Great Escape Ii
NBC (Sun.-Mon., Nov. 6-7, 9 p.m. ET)
Imagine being buried in cotton balls, every inch of you, so that you can see, hear and feel nothing but fuzz. That’s what it’s like watching Christopher Reeve act. Cotton. That’s what this entire miniseries is. What an amazing feat: taking the true story of a courageous escape from a Nazi POW camp—a story made into a zowy 1963 flick—and turning it into monotonous, sense-depriving cotton balls. The first hour or so of this mini goes over the same turf as the old movie: Reeve and fellow prisoners Anthony (Crime Story) Denison, Charles (Hill Street Blues) Haid and Ian (Evergreen) McShane dig their tunnel and escape. Then the show plods through new territory as Michael (Dynasty) Nader and Donald Pleasence, playing the evil Nazis, plot to kill most of the recaptured prisoners. At war’s end, Reeve—now teamed up with Judd (Dear John) Hirsch—returns to Germany to bring to justice the men who murdered his buddies. That is just an excuse for Reeve to be sincere, righteous and loud; he delivers his lines as if they were the Boy Scout oath. But the fact that the show has the dramatic value of a Boy Scout Jamboree isn’t really his fault. No, each of the two parts of this mini has its own director, and together they were not able to build or hold suspense. They don’t spin a good yam. They just spin cotton.