Right about now is the point in the new television season when so-called TV critics, dizzy from exhaustion after spending months dragging their enormous asses off the coach to change the network preview tapes in their VCRs, start coasting. They don’t dare make concrete predictions on which of the just-debuted primetime contenders will be the first cancellation (it’s gonna be NBC’s Tucker, by the way), choosing instead to pepper every overpriced column with the weenie cop-out phrase, “Only time will tell.”
Never noticed? It goes a little like this:
“Only time will tell if Dark Angel can sustain 25 billion viewers when not scheduled against presidential debates and World’s Wildest Ant Farms.”
“Only time will tell if The Geena Davis Show can overcome its mediocre scripts and a star who delivers her jokes like an overmedicated giraffe on rollerblades.”
“Only time will tell if Titans will build an audience beyond prison inmates and rest-home invalids who can’t change the channel.” And so on.
Here at The Only TV Column That Matters®, however, we—meaning me, since the staff I was promised has yet to show up—never rest. There’s still new TV out there you need to know about, which brings us to one of Tube Town’s favorite subgenres: The syndicated weekend/late-night action-adventure series.
Dimly going where many have gone before, Sheena (KUWB 30, Saturdays, 4 p.m.) is more than just Tarzan with boobs—it’s Manimal with boobs, too! Ex-Baywatch flotation device Gena Lee Nolin plays orphaned-as-a-baby-raised-by-animals jungle protector Sheena, who nonetheless speaks decent English, knows some requisite action-adventure series martial-arts moves, and has fabulous hair in all the right places (i.e. the “nature zones” are perfectly waxed).
Whether or not her form-fitting animal “skin” outfits actually came from the critters she supposedly protects or the closeout rack at Victoria’s Secret is a mystery, but dig this: Not only can she telepathically communicate with the creatures of the jungle, but she can also magically transform into one. Just wait until that Crocodile Hunter nut-job from Animal Planet shows up for a very special “mating season” episode—look out, Sheena!
Naturally, if you’ve got Tarzan with boobs and Indiana Jones with boobs (last year’s inexplicably returning Relic Hunter), you’ve got to have Zorro with boobs, which is where Queen of Swords (KTVX 4, Saturdays, 11:35 p.m.) salsas in. Tessa Alvarado (played by newbie Tessie Santiago—no, really, that’s her name), the gorgeous ’n’ smart daughter of Spanish aristocrats, returns to her 1817 California homeland to (wait for it) avenge the murder of her father by the corrupt Mexican government—and she thought all those fencing and kung-fu lessons at prep school would never pay off.
Of course, no one recognizes the most beautiful woman in 19th century SoCal when she dons a black-lace mask and proceeds to open an extra-spicy can of whup-ass on evil soldiers for the amusement of the peasant-folk, and Tessa’s vaguely lesbian relationship with her Tarot card-reading personal assistant has Xena slashed all over it. Fortunately, the show’s muy caliente theme song is by Jose Feliciano, not the Indigo Girls.
After Tarzan with boobs, Indiana Jones with boobs and Zorro with boobs, how ’bout Gene Roddenberry with one boob—namely, ex-Hercules star Kevin Sorbo? Reportedly slap-dashed together from cocktail-napkin doodles by the late Star Trek guru, Roddenberry’s Andromeda (KUWB 30, Saturdays, 9 p.m.) finds Captain Dylan Hunt (Sorbo) and the Andromeda Ascendant (which, as a twist, is a starship with boobs, embodied via hologram by Lexa Doig) emerging from a black hole after three centuries of suspended animation—and his haircut still hasn’t come back into style. Back in the day, Hunt was a part of the Commonwealth, a lefty-sounding government that peacefully ruled the galaxies, until those not-nice Neitzscheans (!) ruined it for everyone. Now, Hunt is driven to restore the Commonwealth, vanquish the Neitzscheans and find a convenient SuperCuts.
Never thought “best of the lot” and “Lorenzo Lamas” would ever fall in the same sentence, but danged if The Immortal (KJZZ 14, Saturdays, 7 p.m.) doesn’t actually suck less than the rest of the new blood. An unholy cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer (he hunts and kills demons with weaponry and one-liners), Highlander (he’s hundreds of years old and prone to flashbacks), The Matrix (lots of black leather trench coats flapping in majestic slo-mo during impossible kung-fu acrobatics) and Renegade (Lamas is back in hair-farm mode), the relatively boob-free Immortal excises the camp factor found in the other AA series altogether—this is dark, serious stuff. Lamas is Rafael Navarre (OK, it’s not that serious), the self-appointed Force of Good who’s eternally tracking Mallos (rhymes with malice—get it?), the designated Force of Evil who just happened to off Rafael’s wife and daughter way back in 1534.
That’s right: There’s a designated Force of Evil who’s been in office slightly longer than Orrin Hatch. Freaky.