Picks and Pans Review: Viper

updated 01/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Fridays, 8 p.m. FT)

C+

The creators of this show must have had an easy time pitching il to the network: "It's Knight Rider meets Robocop." 'Nuf said, dudes!

In this futuristic adventure fantasy, Dorian Harewood plays a wheelchair-bound scientist who designs a sleek, high-tech crime-fighting automobile (actually it's a customized Dodge Viper). James McCaffrey plays a career criminal who gels a personality and memory transplant and is installed as the car's driver. But McCaffrey's unsavory past keeps reaching out for him.

Visually and vehicularly, the show is definitely cool. But the plots and characters land firmly on the hackneyed side of the street. Particularly vapid is a weak stab at comic relief in the person of Joe Nipote, who is too full of Bronx cheer as the pushy pasha of the police motor pool.

This is the latest attempt in NBC's sempiternal quest to create a Friday-night testosterone shower of a series. As for its grade, you'd think a program with this much horsepower under the hood would have an easier time passing.

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