If this is what the end of the world is going to be like, we've probably got it coming.
Bolstered by last year's big ratings hit, Category 6: Day of Destruction, CBS is back with a sequel. This one, which starts at 9 p.m. Sunday with a two-hour installment and wraps up on Nov. 13, is called Category 7: The End of the World.
Network promos say the new miniseries begins where Category 6 left off, so, as befitting a sequel, the worst megastorm in the nation's history, which devoured Las Vegas and Chicago, is back for more - only this time it's even bigger and badder.
Oh, and more ridiculous, too.
As a slew of violent storms ravage the Eiffel Tower, Egypt's pyramids, and other landmark targets around the globe, the new director of FEMA (Gina Gershon) has her hands full trying to prepare for the cataclysmic barn-buster that she knows is rumbling toward Washington, D.C. Luckily, she has the assistance of her old boyfriend (Cameron Daddo), a brooding scientist whom everybody considers an alarmist nut.
Also on the team is a wild and woolly storm-chaser named Tommy Tornado, who is played with typical gonzo glee by Randy Quaid in a role similar to the good ol' boy pilot he portrayed in Independence Day. Those who caught Category 6 last fall might recall that Tommy was whirled away to a nasty death by a fearsome twister over Chicago.
But that was before CBS decided to make a sequel. Tommy explains early on that he didn't die over the Windy City because the storm was nice enough to drop him into Lake Michigan.
Another member of the FEMA All-Star team is Shannen Doherty, yet another discredited scientist who has gone on to find her true calling as a bartender. She's convinced to leave the big tips and leering drunks behind and join the effort for old time's sake, and she winds up bouncing around the country in a truck with Tommy, dodging funnel clouds and shooting off rockets.
Despite all the help, the movie's FEMA seems as overmatched as its real-life counterpart was during and after Hurricane Katrina. At one point, one of Gina's stressed-out lieutenants tells her: "We've got nothing in reserve. We get hit with a second weather disaster, we're going to need a FEMA to look after FEMA."
While all these well-meaning folks are trying to find out what's causing this catastrophic weather system, other people are embracing the frightening events as a sign of the apocalypse.
Chief among them is James Brolin, who seems to be having a ball playing a wacky televangelist with a snow-white pompadour. He and his scheming little wife (Swoosie Kurtz) warn their slack-jawed flock that the storms - not to mention the biblical plagues of frogs and flies (don't even ask) - are sure signs that the end of the world is near. Of course, generous contributions to the Church of the White Pompadour might forestall Doomsday at least until the NBA playoffs are over.
Other plot points, such as they are, involve shifty politicians who are in bed with the big-business polluters who cause global warming (imagine that!), kidnappers who snatch a bunch of teenagers for no apparent reason, a newspaper reporter who never seems to take any notes, and a jealous wife who thinks sexy FEMA chief Gina is out to provide a different kind of storm relief to her husband.
Category 7 is so badly written and acted that it's almost painful to watch. The scenes of destruction are endless, and the special effects look like something out of an old Flash Gordon serial.
And there's something creepy about watching a fictional program featuring killer storms, fleeing refugees, and a clueless FEMA just weeks after witnessing the real thing in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. About the only reason it might be worth hanging in there is to see whether Brolin's shellacked hair can withstand a bolt of lightning.
The two-part miniseries "Category 7: The End of the World" premieres from 9 to 11 p.m. Sunday on CBS. The second part will run at the same time on Nov. 13.
Contact Mike Kelly at: mkelly@theblade