Paul's Review of Robin Cook's 'Terminal'
Robin Cook's 'Terminal'(1996)
The great thing about having cable is that you can always count on a crappy movie starting every half-hour or so, and the Lifetime Movie Network is a big part of that. Content not to show any movies that, you know, anyone might have heard of, LMN gleefully revels in the pit of TV-movie sleaze, blissfully airing 15 movies a day starring someone whose entire career is defined by a few seasons on a nighttime soap or two. But it may be your only chance to catch Suzanne Pleshette as Leona Helmsley, so this is not a channel to take lightly.
I don't know why [i]Robin Cook's Terminal[/i] was on the Lifetime channel. Sure, it's a TV-movie featuring a nighttime soap star (in this case, "Melrose Place" and "Falcon Crest" vet Doug Savant), but it's not like the hero is a woman who must overcome odds and break through her abusive relationship/mysogynistic boss/heroin addiction/adoption system/fatal disease/skeptical police department that doesn't believe her psychic abilities will help her catch the serial killer. The hero is Doug Savant. And while the film is abstractly about disease, it's more about a conspiracy at a research hospital.
Savant plays Dr. Sean O'Grady, who, with the help of his pharmaceutical executive brother (DePalma regular Gregg Henry) is sent to work in the research department at a hospital that's had luck with a certain rare form of cancer. Here he meets his (of course) ex-girlfriend, a nurse played by "The Party Machine with Nia Peeples"' Nia Peeples. It seems the little girl with the disease is reacting badly to the cure, and in between endless scenes of the two heroes pickering like ninth-rate Edward Albee characters (including one hysterically frenzied make-out session in the rain in which, somehow, she gets drenched but he stays dry) they've got to figure out why.
I'll give you a hint. It involves consparacies. You know this because Michael Ironside is in charge of the hospital.
Now, I love Michael Ironside. He's one of the best character actors working today. But wouldn't it be fun if, say, he was cast as someone who's actually a good guy? Just to fuck with our heads? If you see Michael Ironside on screen, you know he's up to no good. Sure, he's had some good-guy parts, but they've all been as leads, in reputable B-pics like [i]Neon City[/i]. You see him as a supporting character in a TV-flick like this and you know, "hey, the bad guy." It's almost funny that they bother trying to cover this up until halfway through the film where it's meant as a "revelation."
Then again, it's not like Robin Cook's Terminal breaks any new ground. The plot is strtictly low-grade medical thriller drivel, with sloppy dialogue (Peeples is actually jealous of Savant's "beakers and test tubes," characters refer randomly to a particular day of an unsaid month for an event that happened three months ago), non-suspense and silly twists that you'll see coming at least a commercial break before they happen. At least it's got a good supporting cast, including Khandi Alexander, "Invaders" fighter Roy Thinnes and [i]Chopper Chicks in Zombietown[/i] star Jamie Rose.
That's about it, though, and it's the only reason I was entertained enough to bother finishing the thing. Well, that and my fascination with the terrible "romantic bickering" betweem the two leads. I still don't quite know why it's on LMN (Because Robin Cook is a woman? I'm not sure if she is. Or if she's a cook.), but there it is, fulfilling its' natural destiny as a space-filler and nothing more.
(For unknown reasons, this is available on DVD. So do not make the mistake of actually paying for it. There are TV movies that or worth paying for, but this is definitely not one of them.)