Picks and Pans Review: Three

updated 02/02/1998 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/02/1998 01:00AM

WB (Mondays, 9 p.m. ET)

C

Your assignment, if you choose to accept it: Detect the differences between this new series and NBC's Players. In Three, three lawbreakers avoid prosecution by agreeing to use their skills to nab other lawbreakers. Same deal in Players, except the three in that show cooperate as a condition of parole. In Three, the three work for a shadowy "mix of government and business interests." In Players? They serve the FBI. In Three, two men and a woman take orders from a man (known as the Man). In Player? Three males report to a female. Hey, this could be a Jeopardy! category in itself.

Slick but stock, Three has two pluses, both of them British actors. Edward Atterton makes an attractive character of Jonathan Vance, described in the Feb. 2 premiere as a "ladies' man" and "high-end art and jewel thief" (as opposed to one who steals only cheap stuff). And veteran David Warner is ideally haughty as the Man. But Julie Bowen is not nearly a fatale enough femme to be convincing as Amanda Webb, touted as a con artist with the power to leave men "in ruins." Bumper Robinson is stuck with the role of Marcus Ezekiel Miller, the type of computer hacker no trio of crime-fighting former criminals can be without. Life was more exciting when an information thief had to rifle file cabinets in the dark.

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