Quirky 'Nest' is gore-laden bugfest

Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Bugs. Can't live with 'em. Can't kill enough of 'em. That's the lesson of the new made-for-TV thriller "They Nest" (7 p.m., USA). This slow-to-develop creeper is set on Orr's Island, an isolated and depressed place just off the Maine Coast. Yes, we're deep in Stephen King country, where weird locales really know how to hold a grudge.

Still shaking from his bout with alcoholism, Dr. Ben Cahill (Thomas Calabro, "Melrose Place") buys a ramshackle house on the island as a place to dry out and get his life together. He has the bad luck to bump into Jack Wald (John Savage) on the ferry and complain about the slovenly state of his new shack. Oops! It seems the place used to belong to Wald's family, and he's still bitter (and forever drunk) about losing the family home. Wald makes it clear to everyone at the bar that he's going to make life a living heck for the new arrival.

Soon, Cahill is met with passive-aggressive hostility from everybody in town. The only exceptions are Nell (Kristen Dalton)� the pretty, flirty, forklift-driving assistant at the hardware store � and sensible sheriff Hobbs (Dean Stockwell).

But soon, Cahill, Hobbs and the good (and bad) people of Orr's Island have other problems on their hands. Unbeknownst to them, a corpse thrown off a foreign trawler has washed ashore, bringing with it a nasty new breed of super-cockroach. They're big, bloody and really gooey when you step on them. Even worse, their bite leaves you paralyzed. After a while, the Island is home to about a gazillion of them, who swarm over folks, bite them senseless and then lay eggs in their victims' mouths. Although it takes about an hour for the bugs to show up in any quantity, the results are gory and predictable. These critters not only kill people, they blow about a million holes in the plot of this already far-fetched drama. Fans of gross-out fare should not miss this quirky thriller, featuring plenty of scenes of bug-laden corpses, botched autopsies and bugs busting out of their still living hosts. Bon appetit!

� For a less fantastic view of wildlife-travel with "The Living Edens" (7 p.m., PBS, TV-G) to East Africa's Great Rift Valley. Its Ngorongoro Crater was formed nearly three million years ago by an enormous volcanic eruption. It is now home to lions, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals and wildebeests.

Other highlights

� "Night Sins," the miniseries starring Harry Hamlin and Valerie Bertinelli, concludes (8 p.m., CBS).

� "Frasier" (NBC, TV-PG) returns to Tuesday nights with back-to-back repeats: Bebe pushes for a TV gig (7:30 p.m., TV-PG), and the opera crowd assumes that Martin is gay (8 p.m., TV-PG).

� A retired cop becomes a real pain on a repeat of "NYPD Blue" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14, L, S).

� After 40 years, an exile makes a bittersweet visit to her once-opulent Cuban mansion in the documentary, "Our House in Havana" on "P.O.V."

(9 p.m., PBS, TV-G).

� Debut night for the local access cable show on "Real World" (9 p.m., MTV, TV-PG).

� Competition for a hot commodity on "Beggars and Choosers" (9 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).

Series notes

Lost privacy on "Big Brother"

(7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) � Car shopping on "3rd Rock from the Sun" (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) � Kitty fears for the family's soul on "That '70s Show"

(7 p.m., Fox, TV-PG, D, L) � Regis Philbin hosts "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" (7 p.m., ABC) � A liberated spirit disturbs Sunnydale on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (7 p.m., WB, TV-14, D, V).

Stress control on "Love & Money" (7:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG, L) � Ken blames Chris for his cardiac on "Titus" (7:30 p.m., Fox, TV-PG, D, S) � Wooing a tobacco lobbyist on "Dilbert" (7:30 p.m., UPN, TV-PG).

A booze binge on "Family Guy"

(8 p.m., Fox, TV-14, D, L, S) � Lessons in love on "Dharma & Greg" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14, D).

Nina knows about Maya and Elliott on "Just Shoot Me" (8:30 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) � Thurgood finds some surprises in his family tree on "The PJs" (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-PG, L, V) � Pete gets hazed "Two Guys and a Girl" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG, D, L).