No. That’s not a B&S About Movies site bug: there’s two movies with the same title released in the same year jumping on the “Year 2000/Millennium Bug” bugwagon that was going to, well, descend the Earth into global chaos.
The first one, also known as Y2K: The Movie, aka Countdown to Chaos in the overseas theatrical markets, was crafted by the great Dick Lowry, the producer and/or director behind Angel Dusted, In the Line of Duty: The F.B.I Murders, and Miracle Landing (one of the TV movie airline disaster flicks we didn’t get to in our week-long tribute).
The second one is an even dopier — Canadian-made, natch — direct-to-video time waster, which is also known as Terminal Countdown in the overseas theatrical markets. Direct-to-video sausage king Richard Pepin, through his PM Entertainment Group, who ground out the likes of the sci-fi actioner and disaster romps such as Cyber Tracker, T-Force, and Epicenter across his 120-plus credits, made the other one (Steel Frontier and Skyscraper; no, the Anna Nicole one, are two others).
And neither production thought of using the no-brainer title of The Millennium Bug for their oh-so-got-it-wrong “ancient future” hysteria boondoggles.
So “controversial” was the first Y2K, it almost didn’t air on the NBC-TV network on November 21, 1999, as some of the major utility, banking, and trading institutions feared it would cause a “War of the Worlds” type panic, inadvertently caused by Orson Welles’s radio drama broadcast on Oct. 30, 1938.
Well, it did air . . . NBC executives just chuckled at the silliness of it all. People losing their nut because of a TV movie?
Imagine if the A-List disaster flicks Armageddon and Deep Impact had to run with a disclaimer to appease the chicken little and falling skies buffoonery of the energy and banking worlds. Well, this flick, did:
“This program does not suggest or imply that any of these events could actually occur.”
And guess what? The critics hated it and nobody it watched anyway.
The always likable Ken Olin is an MIT-trained systems analyst employed at a nuclear power plant in Seattle. While in Washington D.C. bickering over the Y2K issue, he learns that a Swedish plant — as the clocks turned over to 2000 — suffered a catastrophic meltdown. And like all disaster flicks before and after it, our hero faces an adversity rush to home before his family goes “nuclear” — and not even the presence of the always on-the-spot Joe Morton (Terminator 2) and Ronny Cox (of the aforementioned In the Line of Duty: The F.B.I Murders), can save them . . . or this movie. For there’s no thrills. There’s no action. There’s no nothing. Yeah, we ballyhoo the “Big Three” network TV movies around the B&S About Movies cubicle farm all the time, but not this one. Ugh. When it comes to “ancient future” flicks, this one gets it wrong and is the worst of them all — both in the ancient future and TV movie categories.
As for the second one? The critics hated it and nobody rented it.
The always spot-on Louis Gossett, Jr. (Jaws 3D) is pulling a paycheck, as well as the always welcomed Malcolm McDowell (Moon 44). This time, instead of a nuclear power plant, we have a top-secret (in the deep jungles), long-range missile site — connected to Richard M. Nixon’s administration (!) — that will launch its nuclear stockpile when the clocks clicks over to January 2000. And like all disaster flicks before and after it, our hero (Gossett) needs to stop the launch. Which leaves Mal as the evil general.
Sorry, no there’s no trailer for it, but you can stream Y2K: The Movie from NBC-TV for free on You Tube. You can also stream Y2K: Terminal Countdown on the Russian version of You Tube, OK.ru — which makes it all the more of a sweeter watch, courtesy of the Russian explanation-dubbing over it.