Picks and Pans Review: Jason and the Argonauts

updated 05/08/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/2000 AT 01:00 AM EDT

NBC (Sun.-Mon., May 7-8, 9 p.m. ET)

One week, Arabian Nights, and the next, Jason and the Argonauts. Just another modest, low-budget drama from executive producers Robert Halmi Sr. and Jr.

Excuse the ho-hum attitude, but if you watch too many sweeps-month epics, the spectacular becomes almost routine. I say "almost" because this miniseries version of the Greek myth certainly has its moments. Note the scene in Part 2 where an acrobatic Argonaut tries to pole-vault past the extra-large dragon guarding the Golden Fleece. In the blink of an eye, the poor fellow becomes an in-flight snack.

Alas, not all the acting is on a par with the action. As Jason, the young hero who leads the fleece-seeking expedition to fulfill his destiny, Jason London (Dazed and Confused) is much too bland to hold the loyalty of Hercules (Brian Thompson) or win the love of Medea (Jolene Blalock). Of the two kings tormenting the protagonist, Frank Langella's Aertes is far more majestic in his villainy. Even before he dons ram's horns as headgear, Dennis Hopper is hard to take seriously as the bloodthirsty Pelias, the sort of guy who never hugged a man he didn't stab.

As Zeus and Hera, Angus Macfadyen and Olivia Williams make a fair attempt to mix divinity and desire. But when the gods get to lusting and bickering, polytheism always looks pretty silly.

Bottom Line: Not worthless, but not golden

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