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Disaster Porn Saturday Night: Countdown: The Sky's on Fire

Sharing a light hearted moment before Los Angeles bakes are Jennifer (Josie Bissett) and Racer (Ben Browder)

Sharing a light hearted moment before Los Angeles bakes are Jennifer (Josie Bissett) and Racer (Ben Browder)

Had I not been getting ready to go out, on Saturday, July 15, 2000, chances are I would never have recorded this movie. Thankfully, I found a blank tape and while I'm not tech savvy, I went ahead and recorded everything from 7 p.m. on. As a bonus, I even managed to get an intimate look at an expose' on Entertainment Tonight on The Brady Bunch.

The expose' was kind of boring and so was Countdown: The Sky's on Fire. BUT, it does follow the Disaster Porn format (which I'll get to into later).

Sadly, the tape was somehow destroyed and while out shopping a few years later, I bought the DVD, but wasn't quite sure if this was the same movie. There was one scene that would confirm this was indeed the movie. The bugs and tarantulas.

As the movie begins, three people are flying to Mexico when they begin having trouble seeing and breathing. The pilot issues a Mayday and you know they're going down.

Jennifer Thorne (Josie Bissett) is hanging around at the hangar where her boyfriend, Racer (Ben Browder) works as a rescue pilot. A call comes in and he sets off to check on the Mayday.

He doesn't find the downed plane at first, but when he does, he finds the three away from the plane and all three are dead with I don't know what degree burns and soon he starts to lose his vision and has difficulty breathing. Thankfully, he's able to call in his findings before passing out while wearing a stylish windbreaker (NOTE: everyone is complaining about the freak heatwave in Los Angeles, yet, Racer must be a little chilled).

While at home doing some work, Dr. Evan Thorne (John Corbett) gets a phone call that he ignores, but since screening calls in the late '90's was a ritual, he listens to the message being left by Dr. Andrew Pike (John Billingsley) regarding his need to have him come to his office immediately.

At the ocean, KTLM reporter, John Morgan (Bradley Whitford) is bored about going on a story where a whale has beached itself. His driver has him look over at the beach where a pod of whales have beached themselves. Now his story has some meat to it.

This anomaly concerns Elizabeth Sobel (Jo Anderson) and she tells Morgan that it's highly unusual for a pod to beach themselves. While he's at her office, she makes an emergency call to Dr. Thorne and wants his opinion.

During a meeting with her boss, the mayor, Jennifer races to the hospital where Racer is making demands of being released since he's feeling fine. His attending emergency room doctor, Hellstrom (Donzaleigh Abernathy) reluctantly releases him after she takes one more test. He keeps telling her that it's just a little sunburn and he's fine.

She insists on his taking one more test before he's released and she tells him that if the results come back as serious, she'll stop by his house. I'm sure a lot of emergency room doctors stop by after releasing their patients.

Hellstrom is concerned though because a crew from a fishing boat is brought in as well and all have varying degrees of sunburn. But, they're dead.

Since Evan has an in with the mayor, Jennifer arranges a meeting and he and Elizabeth present their theories and as they leave City Hall, they run into Morgan. In this movie, the press is on the good side of reporting, unlike Richard Masur in The Great Los Angeles Earthquake.

Not only is there a connection here, but, Evan has placed a time limit before he goes public (as did Joanna Kerns in the aforementioned movie) and takes Morgan into the mountains to check on some sensitive equipment. While there, Morgan notices the strange behavior of some pigeons and comments on them.

Evan explains what the heat is doing to the birds and eventually, the heat will start taking its toll on insects, other animals and even people.

He's correct as birds crash into the mayor's office, bees swarm throughout the city and when a curfew is issued, the people start going crazy and loot.

As Los Angeles goes crazy, Evan's rival and former partner, Aaron Schiffren (Tom Irwin) agrees to help Evan and the cause, but will it work since the plan has never been worked on?

Earlier, I mentioned that this is a formulaic Disaster Porn story, since it tries to be exciting, but it's the attractiveness of the cast that gives it the seal of approval. Disaster movies have destruction (which is limited here) and when you think about it, when you're looking for a movie to watch on a Saturday, it's usually disaster or action/adventure.

Who wouldn't listen to the easy going 6'5" Corbett who would, in a few years, factor into Sex and the City and become a sex symbol. His shorter co-stars certainly do.


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