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Venezuela denounces unflattering portrayal in TNT spy show 'Legends,' launches investigation

FILE - In this March 11, 2014 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks on his radio and television program called

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FILE - In this March 11, 2014 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks on his radio and television program called "In contact with Maduro" at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. Critics have mostly ignored the new TNT spy drama "Legends," but it's creating a furor in Venezuela. The telecommunications commission opened an investigation on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 into the series over an episode in which a character fingers Maduro and his socialist party as the buyer of chemical weapons. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra, File)

CARACAS, Venezuela - Critics have mostly ignored the new TNT spy drama "Legends," but it's creating a furor in Venezuela.

Officials in the South American country are denouncing the show for portraying the socialist government stockpiling nerve gas to quash dissent.

The telecommunications commission opened an investigation Tuesday into the series over an episode in which a character fingers President Nicolas Maduro and his socialist party, which goes by the initials PSUV, as the buyer of chemical weapons. On Monday, Minister of Information Delcy Rodriguez denounced the script as hostile and "imperialist."

Producer Fox 21 apologized and said the show was just fiction

"The producers did not intend to imply that the show was reporting any actual events when it mentioned President Maduro's name. We sincerely apologize to President Maduro," the company said in a statement.

In the episode in question, titled "Lords of War," the star of the show tortures a terrorist "24"-style, demanding to know who is buying his chemical weapons. Eventually the terrorist splutters, "Maduro! PSUV! They're worried about the civil unrest in Venezuela."

Venezuela was wracked by anti-government street protests this spring, and international observers accused the government of violating human rights in cracking down on the unrest, though never of using chemical weapons.

On Twitter, Rodriguez denounced the "lies and manipulations" presented in the brief scene, which she said was part of a "Hollywood-type script typical in its imperialist actions against legitimate governments."

"Legends" debuted in August to tepid reviews, scoring a mediocre 58 per cent rating on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. It stars Sean Bean, famously killed off in the first season of "Game of Thrones," as an undercover FBI operative.

It's unclear what the government investigation will consist of. On Tuesday, government critics were posting the 20-second clip with the heading, "the scene Maduro doesn't want you to see."

It's not the first time Venezuela has tussled with the U.S. entertainment industry.

In 2006, the government led by the late President Hugo Chavez accused a U.S. gaming company of doing Washington's bidding by releasing a shoot 'em up computer game based on the overthrow of an imaginary Venezuelan "tyrant."

Last year, the U.S. spy drama "Homeland" portrayed Venezuela as a lawless hellscape. An outlaw character was depicted hiding out in a Caracas skyscraper-turned-slum with thugs who killed people and molested children with impunity. No official repercussions followed.

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Hannah Dreier on Twitter: https://twitter.com/hannahdreier

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