TV Review: 'Threshold' Brings a New Alien Threat
CBS' "Threshold" pits (from left) Rob Benedict, Charles Dutton, Carla Gugino, Brian Van Holt, Peter Dinklage and Brent Spiner.
The creep factor is certainly high when you have bugs, blood and people compelled to move in patterns sent from another world.
Such is the case in "Threshold," CBS' addition to Friday night television sci-fi (premieres Sept. 16, 9 p.m. EDT), in which a government team is all that stands between a little-understood alien threat and all of mankind. Yes, that means you.
Leading the charge is Dr. Molly Anne Caffery, played by Carla Gugino ("Sin City" and TV's "Karen Sisco"), a contingency analyst whose job entails envisioning the worst case scenario of anything, from alien invasions to nuclear attacks, and developing plans to deal with the mess.
Among Caffery's long list of contingency plans is Threshold, a multi-stage plan to deal with visitors from another star in classic, government-secret fashion. An odd craft spotted by a U.S. Navy freighter on the Atlantic Ocean, it seems, puts the plan into effect.
Assisting Caffery is crack team of experts including the genius microbiologist Fenway, portrayed by a down-to-Earth Brent Spiner ("The Aviator" and Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation"); linguist and mathematician Arthur Ramsey, Peter Dinklage ("The Station Agent"); the nervous engineer Lucas Pegg, Rob Benedict ('Felicity") and Cavennaugh, a tough-as-nails agent, played by Brian Van Holt ("House of Wax"). The responsibility of keeping the team's efforts under wraps falls to Deputy National Security Advisor J.T. Baylock (Emmy-award winner Charles Dutton).
They make a motley team, sure - even if the motley bit feels forced at times - but there is definitely potential for growth as they defend Earth - or the U.S. at least - against the forces from beyond.
"Threshold" is one of several spacey, ghostly, bump-in-the-night series debuting this season, including the WB's "Supernatural," NBC's "Surface" and ABC's "Invasion." After a two-hour premiere, the show slides into its regular 9 p.m. Friday slot.
Its ensemble cast works well when they each have something to do, though at times their conversations fall flat even as they dust off some enlightening bit of character. Molly's sessions of angst - set to a soundtrack sure to be targeted at younger viewers - may be a bit overbearing, but it's nice to know that even our protectors are fearful even as they take pains to prevent others finding out the truth.
"Threshold's" creepiest, and most successful, moments come in quick flashes, offering quick glimpses into what the show's alien antagonists may or may not have in store for humans. Disaster fans, or at least this reviewer, will herald the appearance of Caffery's dog - canine companions often seem to play some part in calamity tales - who has his own fun toting around a stuffed sock monkey.
Brought to life by executive producers Brannon Braga ("Star Trek: Enterprise"), David Heyman ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban") and David Goyer ("Blade: Trinity), "Threshold" is a promising slice of TV sci-fi.
The two-hour premiere of "Threshold" airs tonight 9 p.m EDT on CBS. Check local listings.
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