Last summer, perhaps in a fit of “Under the Dome” and “Sharknado” envy, NBC announced it had conceived an array of “event” television specials and miniseries — one of them being a remake of Roman Polanski’s creepy 1968 film “Rosemary’s Baby.”
Nine months later — almost to the day — they’ve delivered it, and it’s not much of a blessed or cursed event (airing in two parts, starting Sunday night and concluding Thursday night), but it is surprisingly and even satisfyingly true to the old movie, which was based on Ira Levin’s bestselling novel.
Aside from being a fecund source of psychological camp, “Rosemary’s Baby,” in which a pregnant woman begins to suspect that the overly friendly neighbors in her apartment building are in fact part of a Satanic coven intent on sacrificing her baby to the devil, is something of a template for people who believe such a thing could actually transpire.
That kind of imaginative fiction seeped into courtrooms during the 1980s and ’90s, when day-care providers, heavy-metal fans, goth teens and others were at one time or another accused of crimes connected to devil worship. It’s amazing what a little pentagram graffiti on a Trapper Keeper can do.
Awash in status cues of yuppie finery, this “Rosemary’s Baby” updates nicely as a metaphor for the era of the hyper-aware boutique pregnancy, in which anxious would-be parents spend thousands of dollars to conceive and follow that up with a worrisome barrage of in-utero tests and ultrasounds. Rosemary used to push her demon-seed baby around in a pram; now the prince of darkness will travel in a Stokke stroller.
In this version, Rosemary Woodhouse (Zoe Saldana of “Star Trek” and “Avatar”) accompanies her husband, Guy (Patrick J. Adams), on his one-year teaching gig at the Sorbonne in Paris. The couple is still mourning a miscarriage; Guy is struggling to finish his first novel.
Through a series of coincidences that are clearly the devil’s work, Rosemary and Guy meet an upscale couple, Roman and Margaux Castevets (Jason Isaacs and Carole Bouquet), who insist on lending them an empty, furnished apartment in their Beaux-Arts beauty of a building.
The Castevets’s generosity borders on smothering, especially once Rosemary learns that she’s pregnant again, after an amorous evening with her husband that she was too drunk to recall.
Margot keeps feeding specially concocted herbal soups and smoothies to expectant Rosemary, who just feels sicker and sicker; Roman, meanwhile, gives Guy the inspiration he needs to finish his novel and helps him get a big publishing deal.
It’s up to poor Rosemary to start piecing together the horrifying Faustian bargain that the Castevets have in mind. She is aided somewhat by people who keep turning up dead in freak accidents. She also has access to something poor Mia Farrow never had in ’68 — Google image searches on Satan.
Stretched way too long over two nights, “Rosemary’s Baby” isn’t going to keep anyone on the edge of their seats trying to figure out how it will end, especially if you saw the original or read the novel.
It’s a slick and sometimes even elegant TV production that’s several notches above, say, Lifetime’s recent remake of “Flowers in the Attic.” The script can be remedially hokey, but Saldana turns in a feisty and believable performance as a mother fighting for the life of her unholy spawn. Someone get her a parenting blog and she’ll fit right in.
Rosemary’s Baby (In two parts) Begins Sunday at 9 p.m. and concludes Thursday at 9 p.m. on NBC.