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The Triangle (2005)
Director: Craig R. Baxley

review by J.C. Hartley

The recent resurgence in American science fiction series such as Invasion and Surface, and arguably Lost, begs the question what strange paranoia is behind it all; the aquatic background to all three suggests it is fear of global warming and rising sea levels that has caused writers and producers to tackle our fears in thinly veiled allegories, can production of the great John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes be far behind, (well no, because Surface has pretty much pinched the plot).

The Triangle begins with three full-masted sailing vessels encountering a huge modern tanker during a storm; members of the crew of one of the vessels are leached away by a strange special effect. In the next scene billionaire shipping-magnate Eric Benirall played by Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, you name it) is presented with a corpse that he identifies from a silver cross around its neck as being 15th century. In a parallel story Meeno Paloma (Lou Diamond Phillips, Bloodlines), a powerboat pilot working for Greenpeace, is the only survivor when a whaling vessel they are buzzing is sunk by a mysterious force that also wrecks his speedboat.

Benirall assembles a team of experts to discover why he is losing ships in the Bermuda Triangle and we are introduced to them as they go about their workaday lives. There is Howard Thomas (Eric Stoltz, The Butterfly Effect) a journalist reduced to cynical hackery, Emily Patterson (Catherine Bell, Bruce Almighty) an inevitably feisty oceanic engineer, Stan Lathem (Bruce Davison, X-Men) a failing psychic and Bruce Geller (Michael Rodgers, The Bone Hunter) a bonkers Aussie meteorologist. The team is offered $5 million each, payable on solving the mystery, and after initial doubts they begin to work together as the mystery surrounding the Triangle draws them in.

The story proceeds in three sections - 'Night One', 'Night Two' and 'Night Three'. Night One suffers from the necessity of introducing the characters and a lot of wordy information dumping; some potentially interesting tidbits aren't subsequently followed up, the experts are told that there have been other 'teams' but they are the last, and they are given access to vast amounts of research; now either everyone else told Benirall to stick his $5 million in the Triangle or they are dead, we never find out. The episode takes off when a modern commercial flight takes evasive action from a squadron of WWII bombers and ditches in the ocean, the team investigate and discover that the passenger plane appears to have been underwater for decades while the fighters are factory fresh; a further discovery made possible by Lathem's psychic abilities is even more chilling. Following their foray in the Triangle the experts have disturbing hallucinatory visions that appear quite real. The team hires an ex-Russian submarine to investigate a particularly interesting patch of ocean with a high concentration of fresh water and suffer an attack by some invisible force. Meanwhile, Meeno Paloma after his tragedy with Greenpeace returns home to find his world is different from the one he remembers, initially his station wagon appears to have changed its colour, but bigger shocks emerge when he returns to his family.

After their submarine adventure in Night One the team is taken into custody by a government agency, Geller glimpses a vast underwater structure and Thomas hears that this new group is "just 50 hours away" from some event. As the team takes to its task with earnest the hallucinations increase, time seems to slip in and out of focus, there is more evidence of government involvement and while Geller and Patterson take to the skies to investigate an invisible storm, Lathem and Thomas find a former member of a secret project hiding out in the boondocks awaiting some catastrophe.

As Mr Derek used to tell Basil Brush, that's all we've got time for without spilling the beans. This is a pretty good series that genuinely does draw you in; you do want to know what's going on. The cast are competent enough and put in solid performances without weaving any great televisual magic around their characters; Bruce Davison's earnest Stan is convincing, Patterson becomes more charming as time goes on and Lou Diamond Phillips' Meeno is excellent, in fact this latter parallel storyline lifts the whole enterprise with its examination of a deepening alienating horror. The underwater sequences unfortunately reminded me of nighttime on black and white television, as you can't see what the hell is going on!

Where the storyline eventually fails is in the necessity to draw all the threads together and resolve what is happening; in this multiverse to choose one path obviates all others and that in the end is what occurs, using a device beloved of SF time travel stories. It's not that the ending sells the series short rather that there is a mild sense of disappointment that all other possible explanations have had to be abandoned; an ongoing series could have avoided this dilemma by mounting preposterous phenomena upon ludicrous explanation. The conclusion to The Triangle is quite brave on its own terms with its themes of synthesis and change and you leave the series thinking it will be worth another look and who knows maybe next time it will be different.
The Triangle

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