Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fox, Football and Sleaze

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fox, Football and Sleaze

Article excerpt

`WHAT'S on Fox tonight?" Homer says to Marge on the season premiere of "The Simpsons." "Something ribald, no doubt."

No doubt. In addition to the raunchy, returning "Married . . . With Children," Fox has the premiere of "Wild Oats," in which sex-crazed singles swap jokes about "lip locking" and "tongue hockey." Working our way down the ribaldry meter, there's also "Fortune Hunter," an adventure about a special agent who gets the goods and the babes, and "Hardball," a locker-room comedy about a baseball team.

And, of course, there's "The Simpsons," seeming almost dignified and quite sophisticated by comparison as it moves back to its original night after an extended sojourn on Thursday.

Fox has reshaped its Sunday night lineup in an attempt to capitalize on its big-bucks acquisition of the NFL, which makes its regular-season debut on the No. 4 network Sunday afternoon.

After watching head-bashing and mud-wallowing and John Madden, what do viewers want? For years, over on CBS, they wanted "60 Minutes." But Fox decided that male football fans, with all that testosterone still surging, might prefer a James Bond knockoff spy adventure. (And female football fans, after three hours of watching guys in spandex pants, might like seeing a hunk in a tux.)

The result is "Fortune Hunter" (7 p.m. Sunday on Channel 30), with Mark Frankel as dashing Carlton Dial. (He frequently introduces himself as "Dial . . . Carlton Dial" just in case you'd missed the reference.)

Need something recovered? A high-tech weapon or maybe your ex? If you're rich enough, Dial's your guy. His record with the "global agency" called Intercept is perfect. But he doesn't really like to work; he does it only to get enough money to fill out his collection of airplanes.

John Robert Hoffman co-stars as Harry Flack, a computer wonk who (from the safety of his lab) follows Dial with an itty-bitty camera and often helps him out of tight spots.

Sunday night's opener starts cute, as Dial outsmarts some baddies to rescue a rare lizard. The bizarre sight of the little reptile being airlifted off a yacht almost makes the whole "Fortune Hunter" experience worthwhile. But not quite.

Once the setup is over, and we get down to the real case, in which Dial proves he has ethics and gets the girl, "Fortune Hunter" takes on a tedious aura of deja vu. Been there; seen that - with Sean Connery and Harrison Ford, not Mark Frankel.

And the fact that I dozed off twice during the big love scene isn't a good omen for Frankel's appeal. Bring back the lizard!

Next up, at 7, is the sixth-season premiere of "The Simpsons," a typically hilarious takeoff on "Rear Window" in which Bart, laid up with a broken leg, suspects the nerdy neighbor of killing his wife.

At 7:30 comes the premiere of "Hardball," whose producers went into extra innings rewriting and reshooting the pilot to make major changes. …

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