Payoff in 'The Big One' was too late in coming


November 16, 1990|By Steve McKerrow


* Can anybody recall a cheaper lure to get people to keep watching a miniseries than "The Big One" employed last weekend on NBC?

Now, veteran miniseries fans knew that Sunday's first night would be mostly setup, with the payoff to come on Monday. But as the familiar pre-disaster scenario played out, it seemed reasonable we'd see at least the beginnings of the fictional earthquake -- especially after seeing quick highlight clips at every commercial break.

And by 10:40 p.m., everything seemed ready for the temblor. (Veteran viewers always watch the clock, knowing the good stuff comes right near the end).

So what happened? Nothing. Not so much as one minute of disaster. Part 1 was simply over 20 minutes before the hour, supplanted by Maria Shriver and a moderately serious news report on the reality of earthquake forecasting.

In fact, on Monday night's Part 2, it took close to an hour for the powerfully depicted earthquake to really get going.

* And while we're probing sore spots, didn't Wednesday's edition of CBS' "48 Hours" seem awfully close to the exploitative excesses of so-called "tabloid TV?" Report after report on people suffering from odd phobias and obsessions -- compulsive hand-washings, hoarding of newspapers, fear of being outside -- seemed to urge viewers to "look at the freaks" rather than offer any reasonable help or understanding in dealing with such difficulties.

* OK, it seems too early for Thanksgiving, especially with this week's balmy turn of the weather. But take note that Baltimore's annual Thanksgiving parade takes place tomorrow (at 10 a.m. on Charles Street) and that, for the first time, it will be on TV.

WNUV-Channel 54 is covering the march, broadcasting delayed reports twice today: at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. The hosts are Jack Bowden, Susan White-Bowden and Channel 54 news announcer Karen Frances.

* For a nice example of local TV news that is truly local -- and refreshingly non-sexist, too -- check out WMAR-Channel 2 weekend sports guy Keith Mills' thorough coverage of the myriad athletic activities in area schools. In last Sunday's late-night edition, for example, Mills had tape-highlight reports of football, both male and female soccer, girl's field hockey and cross country running.

* Here's a double-barreled blast from the past. Saturday's scheduled edition of "The Golden Girls" (at 9 p.m., Channel 2) includes two guest stars as rival suitors to Dorothy (Bea Arthur), played by Sonny Bono and Lyle Waggoner.

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