Picks and Pans Review: Muscle
January brings the launch of two new broadcast networks, Warner Brothers (WB) and United Paramount (UPN). Actually at this point, both are essentially expedient alliances of local stations offering two nights of programming a week. But I would remind you, this is how Fox got started.
First up on the docket is this raucous, ribald, often raunchy ensemble comedy set in a Manhattan workout salon. In the opening scene, the owner (special guest Adam West) finds his young man-eating wife (Shannon Kenny) doing push-ups with his dissolute son (Dan Gauthier) in the steam room and keels over dead. (Did I mention this is how Fox got started?)
All manner of characters frequent the chic sweatshop. There's a lesbian news anchor (Amy Pietz), an Italian gigolo (Nestor Carbonell), a recently paroled Wall Street shark Gerry Levine), a gossipy psychiatrist (Alan Ruck), a publicity-obsessed lawyer (Michael Boatman) and many other outlandish eccentrics, all ruthlessly trying to exploit one another.
Energetic but charmless, the show makes a crass, rather obvious bid to recreate the irreverent, over-the-top tone of Soap. But there's a difference between funny and offensive. (One typical punch line goes: "I have to get my hands on my father's sperm!") The whole project is a good deal too pumped up, as if the writers are on comedy steroids.
After this special one-hour premiere, the program will air Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.