Expect fun, not historical facts from ‘Templar’

Posted Jan. 22, 2009, at 7:06 p.m.

NBC brings back that TV rarity this weekend — the miniseries.

A word of caution about “The Last Templar,” airing in two-hour blocks Sunday and Monday: Normally miniseries are considered special programming. But instead of airing this during February sweeps, NBC is putting it on during the January doldrums, when the networks are just gearing up again after the holidays. So maybe Peacock executives don’t have a lot of faith in it.

That being said, “The Last Templar” is good, dumb fun. If you watch it, just check your minds at the door and enjoy the ride, and don’t worry about the many holes in the script.

“The Last Templar,” produced by Robert Halmi Sr. (“Gulliver’s Travels”) and Robert Halmi Jr. (TV’s “The Poseidon Adventure”), seems like an attempt to cash in on “Da Vinci Code” fever, several years too late.

It starts when four horsemen dressed as knights rampage through an exhibition of Vatican treasures at a Manhattan museum, stealing quite a few of them.

This incenses spunky archaeologist Tess Chaykin (played by slumming Oscar winner Mira Sorvino), whose late father had dug up many of the pieces in the exhibition. So she gives chase to the robbers, both figuratively and literally.

This annoys hunky FBI agent Sean Daley (Scott Foley, “The Unit”), who doesn’t need civilians getting in the way of his investigation.

The cause of the robbery dates back thousands of years to the Knights Templar and their fabled treasure that was lost at sea. There are flashbacks to establish the back story, but they tend to bog down the miniseries’ momentum.

Of course, Tess, the nonbeliever, and Sean, the devout Catholic, grudgingly team up to solve this historical mystery and naturally fall in love. Also in the mix are Victor Garber (“Eli Stone”) as a devious Monsignor, his cutthroat henchman and an amoral archaeologist after the same treasure. Omar Sharif (yes, he’s still alive) shows up late in the miniseries as a religious Greek savant.

Is “The Last Templar” four hours of your life that you’ll never get back? Not quite. But viewers don’t stand a prayer of uncovering anything that Indiana Jones or Lara Croft haven’t already showed them, and better.

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