Fox (Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET)
Sure this eagerly anticipated Melrose Place spinoff is about fashion models-a glossy, grasping gaggle of Cindy wannabes. But all is not vanity in Fox's latest drama of the depraved. No, no. It's much more. It's part underwear ad, part catfight, part Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and part psycho ward.
So far it's also pretty stiff and strident, particularly in regard to the acting. The only old pro in the cast is Dallas vet Linda Gray, executing an over-the-top Lucrezia Borgia imitation here. A crucial ingredient is missing from this soap mix: someone virtuous for the villains to scheme against. There's no one to root for except the questionable innocent played by Cassidy Rae (see story, page 56).
Even so, this is passable prime-lime fare. Which just goes to prove that while beauty may be only skin-deep, television is a good deal more shallow.
USA (Thurs., July 14, 9 p.m. ET)
A simple street encounter turns deadly when a Korean shopkeeper and a pair of wedding guests are shot by a trio of black teens. That leads to a trial riddled with problems and rancor that are exacerbated by the assignment of a Korean-American prosecutor (Mia Korf) who is under undue pressure from her own community and from her superiors.
With the exception of the dependable Bill Nunn as a beleaguered single working father, the acting isn't very good. But the plot engines—the urban contagions of guns and ethnic divisions—are sturdy.
Showtime (Sun., July 17, 8 p.m. ET)
In this fetching comedy film, a greedy cattle baron (John Vernon) wants to divert the railroad through a small Colorado town in 1875. All he has to do is run some homesteaders off their claims. But these grubby farmers acquire a champion, a laconic stranger named Destiny (Kris Kristofferson).
Director Eugene Levy, an SCTV alum, has assembled a wry cast (including Barney Miller alums Max Gail and Steve Landesberg, John Hemphill, Don Lake, Fred Willard and others) for this lamebrain Shane. Even though the script starts shooting blanks during the last half, this movie is still the most rootin'-tootin' frontier spoof since Blazing Saddles.
The coverage of World Cup soccer has been one of those Goldilocks declinations: Too hot...too cold...just right. For the Spanish-language channel Univision, the only outlet to televise all 52 matches, this has been an event gigante. Its style has been manic, punctuated by Andrés Cantor's now-famous, wounded-bull war cry: "Gooooooalllll!!!" ABC, with a select schedule of 11 games, has put a curiously bland, featureless face on the Cup, even dulling down the July 4th face-off between the U.S. and Brazil.(By assigning second-line announcers Roger Twibell and Al Trautwig, the network signaled its essential disinterest in soccer.) Only ESPN, with 41 matches, has done the Cup proud, profiting from enthusiastic announcers (particularly Jim Donovan), better camera work, helpful graphics and crafty direction.