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Television Reviews : 'Sable' Debuts on ABC

November 07, 1987|HOWARD ROSENBERG | Times Television Critic

Tonight's premiere of ABC's "Sable" is long on looks and short on story.

"Sable" is an adventure series that's on the cutting edge of hokum. It doesn't even approach the literate satire and appeal of "Once a Hero," the defunct series whose time slot it inherits at 8 p.m. Saturdays (on Channels 7, 10 and 42).

If "Sable" is intriguing (and it is, somewhat), it's because of its sleek, interesting style and enigmatic hero, a dual character played by Lewis Van Bergen. By day he's eccentric kiddie-book author Nicholas Flemming, an assumed identity. By night he's Jon Sable, a do-gooding urban guerrilla who scales buildings while wearing a black stocking suit and zigzaggy African makeup.

The man could obviously use some therapy.

Tonight, Sable unravels an apparent espionage scheme that involves the abduction of the granddaughter of a wealthy businessman (John Harkins).

The story wouldn't fill a thimble and hardly merits the hour it's given. What is interesting is the dramatic execution and staging by Gary Sherman (who wrote, directed and produced the premiere) and the mystery surrounding Sable, whose blurry past is not fully explained.

Apparently his family was wiped out by someone, which explains his compassion for kids. But he talks a sort of New Yorkese, so what do those African drums in the background mean? Why does he run around at night in that funny costume? And does he change in a phone booth?

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