Talk about a perfectly named show: The WB’s Dead Last (debuting Tuesday, Aug. 14, 8 p.m.), about a touring rock trio that sees ghosts, isn’t on the network’s fall schedule. They probably won’t even air all 12 episodes, which have been in the can since last year awaiting a never-set midseason date. The WB has had all summer to use Dead Last and they waited until now? Did they run out of Freddie Prinze Jr. movies?
Despite the ridiculous premise (remember, this is the TV net that gave you a 98-pound waif who lays the smackdown on vampires, and a kid named “Dawson” who doesn’t get his ass kicked every week), Dead Last isn’t quite as dumb as a WB-ized hybrid of Bands on the Run and Scooby-Doo could have been.
Angsty guitarist Vaughn (Kett Turton, oozing the charisma of a young Tom Hanks … stunt double) goofball drummer Scotty (Tyler Labine, a near-ringer for Bands on the Run drummer Dominic, minus booty calls) and sexy-smart bassist Jane (Sara Downing, assuming both the Daphne and Velma roles) are The Problem, an alt-rock indie-band on the vague verge of signing a record deal. They’re on the road playing clubs and waiting for circa ’91 guitar-noise ditties to rotate back into style. Lo and behold, Scotty finds a spooky amulet in the basement of a bar, Vaughn reads the magical Latin inscription and the three can suddenly see dead people. Not only that, but they’re now charged with helping these limbo-ed souls to wrap up unresolved issues so they can move onto the next world, or at least Florida.
Faster than you can say “Roinks!,” The Problem is having creepy encounters with troubled ghosts visible to, natch, only them. No biggie, since an average day for the trio seems to consist of eating, fighting, eating again, surfing the Internet, fighting again, slapping band stickers everywhere, eating some more and eventually arriving to the gig a couple of hours late—and the crowd is still there waiting! (When you see sultry Jane in her WB-issue camisole tank, you’ll understand.) And don’t even think about tossing the Amulet of Sauryn: It can’t be ditched or destroyed, making for a funny segment wherein Scotty pawns the unlucky charm dozens of times, only to have it reappear in his pocket after each $100 transaction. Suh-weet.
Dead Last has all the winking comedic/ironic touches (Vaughn blurts out the you-knew-it-was-coming Scooby-Doo reference early on), weepy-feely moments (Scotty delivers a “lost” engagement ring to the once-fiancée of a bus-flattened dead guy) and barely-legal eye candy (again, Jane in the camisole tank) required of a good WB series. Not to mention the supernatural-lite icing of the Buffy/Angel/Roswell trifecta and the dubious musical-talent illusion (The Problem, at least in the pilot episode, are only seen “playing” for seconds) of Popstars. Why is a reasonably cool show with this kind of pedigree getting the summer-run shaft? The more pressing question would be, which cable network is going to grab the remaining Dead Last eps once this tour is aborted—VH1? The Sci-Fi Channel? The Food Network? (They really do eat a lot.) So many possibilities.
Don’t count on TBS; their schedule is filled with movies—bad, extra-cheesy movies like The Triangle (premiering Sunday, Aug. 12, 6 p.m.), an original production also on the ghostly-spooky tip. Possibly the most ocean-free Bermuda Triangle “thriller” ever made, this cable flick is equally bone-dry in the talent department: Aside from Veronica’s Closet refugee Dan Cortese, it also stars Beverly Hills 90210 outcast Luke Perry and former Wonder Years hottie Olivia d’Abo. These are actors who now only exist on cable and the bottom row of your local video shop, right next to the “Richard Grieco” aisle.
Seen that episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, when SpongeBob buys mail-order inflatable “big muscle” arms to impress his buff pumped-up pals? Dan Cortese also bought a pair, and he shows them off as much as possible in The Triangle. Beyond Danno’s impressive guns, the story is this: Cortese, Perry and generic bud David Hewlett (who may as well be wearing a “Victim No. 1” button on his stupid hat) take a fishing vacation in the Bermuda Triangle on a chartered boat helmed by d’Abo and Dorian Harewood (who should be wearing the “Victim No. 2” button—it’s a set).
Soon enough, the brain trust’s boat happens upon trouble in the Triangle, as well as a mysterious ocean liner that disappeared in the ’30s. Do they board it? Of course! Does it suddenly become The Shining, with Perry in crazed Jack Nicholson mode? You bet! Do only the prettiest (d’Abo, Cortese and his blow-up arms) survive after a hysterical O.J.’s Bronco-caliber ship-and-dingy chase? Don’t make me spoil it!