August 5, 1997 in Features

Horrors Of ‘Intensity’ True To The Name

Faye Zuckerman New York Times Syndicate
 

Just when you may have been ready to throw up your hands in despair over summer reruns, along comes “Intensity,” a 1997 two-part teleplay based on Dean R. Koontz’s novel.

The movie is a first-rate thriller by TV-movie standards.

Airing on FOX at 8 over the next two nights, it’s a breathless, explosive drama starring Molly Parker as Chyna Shepherd, a waitress with a troubled past coaxed by a co-worker (Deanna Milligan) to go home with her for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Touched by the experience, unlike any she ever had growing up with her mother and her psychotic boyfriend, she settles uneasily into the guest room.

Thus her nightmare begins, a story of mass murder and insanity that strains sometimes in flashbacks to Chyna’s tortured childhood but otherwise burns red hot.

Parker’s strong performance gives the story credibility, but it is John C. McGinley’s ice-cold portrayal of the killer, a sicko who kills for the “intensity” of the experience, that gives it its punch.

This adaptation of Koontz’s best seller - No. 1 on the New York Times list - makes for an extremely violent movie with upsetting sexual themes. But I didn’t find any of it gratuitous.

With serial killers and “spree” killers in our midst, it is all the more horrific.

Brace yourself for an intense ride.

Highlights

“JAG,” CBS at 8: The military series lands at its new time for the fall with a repeat about a captain who may have unnecessarily put his troops at risk. (Another episode airs Friday.)

“Grace Under Fire,” ABC at 8:30: Here’s a repeat of the half-hour in which Grace prepares to graduate from college. It’s full of serious business as she copes with the prospect of finding a job. Repeat.

“Breach of Faith: Family of Cops II” (1997), CBS at 9: Charles Bronson reprises his role of Inspector Paul Fein in this sequel to 1995’s “A Family of Cops.” Here Fein and family (Joe Penny, Sebastian Spence) shoot their way through the two hours as they square off against Russian mobsters.

“Hitchhiking Vietnam,” KSPS at 9: Karin Muller’s journey through Vietnam, which included various modes of transportation including a water buffalo, is chronicled in this compelling documentary.

“Frasier,” NBC at 9: The unathletic radio talk-show host is forced to play softball, and son Frederick wants to watch. This repeat never strikes out.

“P.O.V.” KSPS at 1 and 4 a.m.: “A Perfect Candidate” traces the highly emotional senate race between Oliver North and incumbent Charles Robb. This look at the 1994 campaign has a lot to say about Virginia politics and our political system. And it’s not too positive.

Cable Calls

“Biography,” A&E; at 5 and 9: Ubiquitous Tom Hanks is profiled in this superb documentary series.

“Company’s Comin’: A Tribute to Porter Wagoner,” TNN at 5: Some of Nashville’s brightest stars turn out to celebrate Wagoner’s 50 years as an entertainer.

Vince Gill, Joe Diffy and Billy Ray Cyrus are among those who perform many of Wagoner’s greatest hits before an enthusiastic crowd at the Grand Ole Opry House.

But it is Dolly Parton, who performed with Wagoner for seven years, who brings down the house with an emotional rendition of “I Will Always Love You.”

“The Shining” (1980), TNT at 5: The cable channel airs Stanley Kubrick’s haunting adaptation of Stephen King’s tale about the, well, hotel from hell.

Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall play the couple who care for the hotel during the off-season when strange apparitions appear. The climax, in which Nicholson goes insane, has not only become a classic, but it has also been popularly spoofed.

Talk Time

“Tonight,” NBC at 11:35: Actress Mira Sorvino and actor Jonathan Taylor Thomas.

“Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS at 11:35: Ray Liotta, comedian David Brenner and actress Natalie Deselle.

“Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher,” ABC at 12:35 a.m.: “Crossfire’s” Bill Press and radio host Jane Chastain.

“Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC at 12:35 a.m.: Actor John Leguizamo and musical guest Mary Black.


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