Review: Threshold (2005)

I tried to come up with a witty tagline for this quasi-review (I'll tell you why it's "quasi" in a moment) but I was torn between all the available puns...

"This show crossed my threshold for boredom."

"Watching this I crossed my threshold for pain."

You get the point, I'm sure.

Threshold is one of the spate of new shows this season that were inspired by the success of ABC's Lost last season, and if this show is any indication of what the newcomers will be like, ABC doesn't have a thing to worry about.

If you're the type of person who just wants to know whether the show is worth watching and doesn't care why, let me help you out: The reason I'm calling this a "quasi-review" is because I thought it was so pointless that I wasn't able to make it through the entire 2 hour pilot episode. I gave up about 45 minutes in, thinking I had better things to do, like maybe go floss my teeth.

(Note to Brannon Braga, producer: Could I possibly be suffering from "viewer fatigue" in as few as 45 minutes?)

The show opens on what seems to be some sort of Naval research vessel. I say seems to because although no one wears a Navy uniform on the ship it is later referred to as a "Naval vessel". The first thing we see and hear is a conversation between two guys, one of which is lamenting his freshly received "Dear John" letter. I suppose this could have worked except for the fact that the first 5 minutes of the show seemed to me to be an obvious "get to know the characters" sequence.

We soon see a strange fractal pattern appear on the radar screen, a bright light, wierd sounds a then paint apparently starting to melt on the interior walls and ceilings of the bridge. The crew goes outside and sees a strange craft that looks like a glittery Christmas ornament hovering a couple of hundred feet off the ship.

Cut to a big boardroom where Dr. Molly Anne Caffrey (Carla Gugino) is giving a briefing to some unknown group talking about how her job is to create plans to deal with bad things happening on a catastrophic scale.

Cut abruptly to her in her apartment greeted by her ugly little dog and a song playing as background to the scene that seems so incredibly out of place that I thought I was hallucinating, or that the satellite box had abrubtly changed channels to another movie Carla Gugino may have appeared in.

As she's out walking her dog, big black government helicopter lands in the park to whisk her (and her dog, apparently) away to be put in charge of the "Threshold" project, which was the name she gave one of her scenarios: The one involving aliens arriving on Earth. We're then introduced to her merry band of investigators ("They're not exactly 'Charlie's Angels'" remarks the Federal Agent) who include Brent Spiner as a doctor/scientist, a guy WAY too young to be taken seriously as some sort of spacecraft/engineering expert and a genius midget (ok, fine... "little person") who has a penchant for strippers and is played by Peter Dinklage.

No, I'm not kidding.

They rush out to the ship because the North Koreans have gotten wind of something going on and they discover some of the crew dead, some of the crew dead and disfigured, some of the missing and one of them left alive (Mr. Dear John). They find a video of the object taken by a crewman and while watching it a sound from the video starts to cause them great pain and nosebleeds. I sat there staring dumbly at the screen waiting for the great Dr. Caffrey to turn off the videocam, but I guess that wouldn't be dramatic enough, so the Fed shoots the television.

I guess he's a "shoot first, watch TV later" kind of guy, hmm? (I couldn't resist)

Anyway, the survivor goes on to tell them that the crew changed... became violent. Some towards others and some towards themselves. The Brent Spiner character discovers some genetic changes in the blood cells of the dead as well as the surviving rats and roaches. The short scientist, while not hitting on Ms. Gugino, deduces that the aliens are putting out some sort of signal having to do with a triple helix (as opposed to the common genetic double helix).

The gang deduces that perhaps the aliens want to turn us into them in order to make taking over the planet easier. Before they get off the ship, the sole survivor breaks free, is apparently impervious to gunfire and jumps overboard.

This is the point where I jumped ship as well.

I don't know if on the face of it this sound interesting, but the execution of it was terribly boring and disjointed. The moments where we were supposed to be watching little personal exchanges between characters were so heavy-handed as to almost make one groan audibly. The mood they were trying to establish on the show, didn't fly and I really didn't feel any suspense or interest in what was going to happen next.

One new sci-fi/supernatural show down, another half dozen to go...

Why Joker Likely Won't Hit $1 Billion (Despite Breaking Box Office Records)

More in TV Reviews