Picks and Pans Review: Call of the Wild

updated 04/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CBS (Sun., April 25, 9 p.m. ET)

C

TV is staging a mini-Jack London revival this month with The Sea-Wolf on TNT and this oft-filmed yarn on CBS.

Set in 1897 during the Klondike gold rush, Wild is the solemn tale of two transplants whose fates are entwined: John Thornton (played by-Rick Schroder), the young son of a wealthy Seattle mill owner who wants to set out on his own, and Buck (played by a German shepherd named Vilus), who is abducted from California and sold as a sled dog. They meet on a boat going north but are soon separated. Both face hardship and cruelty in the Yukon before being reunited.

Like its virtuous hero, the film is well-intentioned but deadly dull. The entire cast signal that they're acting in a period drama by speaking as if they're in the middle of an elocution lesson. Schroder, this generation's Mickey Rooney, is extremely ill-suited to the role. I suspect the actor, who at 23 is still trying to shake his boyish image, took the part just to prove he can grow a beard. Gordon Tootoosis and Mia Sara costar.

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