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TV Review: 'Threshold' Brings a New Alien Threat

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. (Image credit: CBS.)

The creepfactor is certainly high when you have bugs, blood and people compelled to movein patterns sent from another world.

Such is thecase in "Threshold," CBS' addition to Friday night television sci-fi (premieresSept. 16, 9 p.m. EDT), in which a government team is all that stands between alittle-understood alien threat and all of mankind. Yes, that means you.

Leading thecharge is Dr. Molly Anne Caffery, played by Carla Gugino ("Sin City" and TV's "KarenSisco"), a contingency analyst whose job entails envisioning the worst casescenario of anything, from alien invasions to nuclear attacks, and developingplans to deal with the mess.

AmongCaffery's long list of contingency plans is Threshold, a multi-stage plan todeal with visitors from another star in classic, government-secret fashion. An oddcraft spotted by a U.S. Navy freighter on the Atlantic Ocean, it seems, putsthe plan into effect.

Assisting Cafferyis crack team of experts including the genius microbiologist Fenway, portrayedby a down-to-Earth Brent Spiner ("The Aviator" and Data from "Star Trek: TheNext Generation"); linguist and mathematician Arthur Ramsey, Peter Dinklage ("TheStation Agent"); the nervous engineer Lucas Pegg, Rob Benedict ('Felicity") andCavennaugh, a tough-as-nails agent, played by Brian Van Holt ("House of Wax"). Theresponsibility of keeping the team's efforts under wraps falls to DeputyNational Security Advisor J.T. Baylock (Emmy-award winner Charles Dutton).

They make amotley team, sure - even if the motley bit feels forced at times - but there isdefinitely 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 thisseason, 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.

Itsensemble cast works well when they each have something to do, though at timestheir conversations fall flat even as they dust off some enlightening bit ofcharacter. Molly's sessions of angst - set to a soundtrack sure to be targetedat younger viewers - may be a bit overbearing, but it's nice to know that evenour protectors are fearful even as they take pains to prevent others findingout the truth.

"Threshold's"creepiest, and most successful, moments come in quick flashes, offering quickglimpses into what the show's alien antagonists may or may not have in storefor humans. Disaster fans, or at least this reviewer, will herald the appearanceof Caffery's dog - canine companions often seem to play some part in calamitytales - who has his own fun toting around a stuffed sock monkey.

Brought tolife by executive producers Brannon Braga ("Star Trek: Enterprise"), DavidHeyman ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban") and David Goyer ("Blade:Trinity), "Threshold" is a promising slice of TV sci-fi.

Thetwo-hour premiere of "Threshold" airs tonight 9 p.m EDT on CBS. Check locallistings.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.