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TV Reviews : Ordinary Adventure Tale of ‘The Forgotten’

USA Network tonight debuts its World Premiere Movies with “The Forgotten"(9-11 p.m.), a story of six American MIAs who are released from the hell of Vietnam into the hell of U.S. military and political corruption.

The first of 24 original movies that the cable channel has commissioned, the production is turgid and airless, a murky filament in USA Network’s self-described “new” look.

The cast features strong performances from Keith Carradine and Steve Railsback as the key MIA guys suddenly freed and whisked off to a U.S Army base in Germany after 17 years as Vietnam POWs.

But the production’s early going, particularly the debriefing scenes, are grueling. The show never develops a style or any zest.

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Stacy Keach (whose brother James Keach produced, directed and co-wrote with Railsback) delivers a ho-hum performance that looks phoned in, playing a Nazi-like lackey for the National Security Council. He interrogates the gaunt MIAs as if they’re all brainwashed traitors. That’s because Keach’s bosses in Washington have a lot to cover up.

Cliches (check out Bruce Boa’s unctuous Secretary of State) and fog (Americans shooting Americans on dark Bonn streets) choke the production. Meanwhile, flashes of welcome light flare along the story’s edges from Don Opper, Richard Lawson, Pepe Serna and Michael Champion as other MIAs in the group betrayed by Uncle Sam.

It’s this unevenness, even in the lighting, and the flat, by-rote action scenes (the show was shot in Yugoslavia) that make the adventure ordinary at best, stifling at worst.


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