Tuned In

TV Weekend: Votes 'n' Viruses

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Back when I did a column on HBO’s Recount, I thought, and may have made the mistake of saying in public, that I would give the movie a longer review-review when it was about to come out. Well, here we are, it’s the Friday before Memorial Day, I’m finishing up something for the magazine, it’s 70 degrees and sunny in New York City and [chuckles softly] mmmmyeah, that’s gonna happen.

But if you have the slightest interest in politics and movie treatments thereof, I recommend it. While it’s not a great TV movie—it’s basically a high-class Movie of the Week, a docudrama that dramatizes events you’ll recall from the news at the time if you were following it—it’s nonetheless a gripping recounting (ha!) of a Presidential drama that was pretty gripping at the time to begin with. And the value-add comes from several outstanding performances that flesh out the personalities behind the scenes: Kevin Spacey as Gore recount head Ron Klain, Denis Leary as the delightfully foulmouthed Gore staffer Michael Whouley and Laura Dern as Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who presides confusedly over the festivities with a pageant-queen smile. (Dern’s performance does come off a bit caricatured, but I recall the real-life Harris coming across as a caricature at the time.) The movie, as I wrote earlier, is definitely told from the Democratic/Gore P.O.V., but it doesn’t cast the Bush side (led by Tom Wilkinson as James Baker) as villains exactly; rather, it portrays them as sizing up the stakes faster and pursuing them with less fastidiousness about the Marquis of Queensbury rules.

Meanwhile, on Memorial Day, A&E debuts the first night of the two-part The Andromeda Strain remake. Woo, dog, is this miniseries bad—quite possibly worse than Tin Man. The virus-from-space sci-fi story is reimagined here with a lot of dull technobabble and a hoo-hah conspiracy plot involving the environment. If you can’t even get an interesting performance out of Andre Braugher, you need to pack it in.

Fire up the grills, Tuned Inlanders—I like mine rare—and I’ll see you Tuesday.