November 18, 1996 12:00 PM

CBS (Sun., Nov. 17, Tues., Nov. 19, 9 p.m. ET)


The story of the Titanic is so compelling that it’s almost impossible to sink, but this overloaded mini-series comes dangerously close. Combining a realistic account of the April 14, 1912, disaster, in which more than 1,500 people died, with a fictionalized melodrama of romances among the passengers, this four-hour special often seems more like soap opera than tragedy. Despite a strong cast that includes George C. Scott as the captain, Roger Rees (Kirstie Alley’s rich boyfriend on Cheers) as White Star Line owner J. Bruce Ismay, and Peter Gallagher, Eva Marie Saint and Tim Curry as fictional passengers, it’s a heavy-handed, fragmented version that lacks sustained emotional power. Still, once ship and iceberg collide at the end of the first half, the ship’s terrible fate is as mesmerizing as ever.

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