Picks and Pans Review: Afp: American Fighter Pilot

updated 04/15/2002 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/15/2002 01:00AM

CBS (Fridays, 8 p.m. ET)

Initial complaint: CBS has a couple of three-letter successes in CSI and JAG, but I see no earthly reason to call this new reality series AFP. What's next—ELR: Everybody Loves Raymond?

AFP is an M&M show—macho and military—with Tony Scott (Top Gun) and brother Ridley (Black Hawk Down) in its corps of executive producers. Cameras followed three lieutenants last year as they underwent 110 days of F-15 pilot training at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. The April 5 episode (second of eight) clearly labels the principals: "deeply religious" Marcus Gregory, "father of two" Mike Love and "swaggering platinum blond" Todd Giggy. Three guesses who gets the most screen time.

These characters could be worth following into the wild blue yonder, but AFP is so loaded with bells and whistles that it can hardly get off the ground. The cut-and-flash editing style bombards the eyes. Key phrases echo on the soundtrack, then appear on the screen in block letters. When Love likens one part of the training to a "high-tech video game," he might as well be speaking of the show itself.

Although we're reminded that our nation is "calling for heroes," it's obvious that most of AFP was shot before the United States began its war against terrorism. In the premiere, Giggy says he felt "rage" after the Sept. 11 attacks. Makes sense. But in episode 2 he talks of his "rage" over flunking a flight-simulator test. Save it for the big stuff, lieutenant.

Bottom Line: Fails to earn its wings

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