Tuesday, 27 April 2010

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves."

About as close to a contemporary US version of Ghostwatch as you can get (it even went out on October 31st!), Without Warning is another wonderful 'live' TV event from 1994 that depicts a special news bulletin covering the aftermath of a sudden, unexpected meteorite impact.

As the story progresses, it transpires that the seemingly calculated trajectory of this rogue asteroid may not have been a naturally-occurring event as first thought, but in fact directly influenced by extraterrestrials.

Hosted by veteran American journalist and news anchorman, Sander Vanocur and Malcolm in the Middle regular, Jane Kaczmarek, this one-off drama special cleverly begins with a fake murder-mystery show entitled Without Warning which is then interrupted by a special news bulletin. Reporters from all over the globe cover the event as it happens, while Pascoe/Silvestri-like experts exchange theories and insults over live tele-link in the studio.

Overall, Without Warning is wonderfully melodramatic, over-the-top, and fun to watch. With a cast much larger than Ghostwatch (featuring guest appearances from scientist/author, Arthur C. Clarke and popular Star Trek: The Next Generation actor, John de Lancie), understandably, there are times when some of the acting falls short of perfection, but like our very own Parky, Sander Vanocur skillfully holds the whole thing together - bringing a reliable, warm voice of reason to the increasingly-spectacular proceedings.

Intriguingly, at first glance, the plot seems to have been inspired by the real-life Shoemaker Levy 9 event which occurred roughly around the same time the film was released- when a huge fragmented comet slammed into Jupiter, creating some impact zones that were larger than the Earth itself. I remember, back in the day, the BBC ran some great short films on the subject - featuring an array of fantastically spooky music as provided by The Orb.

Believe it or not, this film is even more difficult to track down on VHS/DVD than Ghostwatch..! However, you might be able to track down a copy online if you look hard enough. I recall first catching the film on Sky Movies many years ago, having been trailed using next to nothing but micro-snippets of footage. Spooky, but effective!

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