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TV Review : 'The Saint' First Up on the Mystery Wheel

October 13, 1989|IRV LETOFSKY

"The Saint," in the stylish persona of Simon Templar, is back--and KCOP's got him. The new face in the old role is likewise a Simon: suave Simon Dutton, a British actor whose paltry 31 years is enhanced with a few gray brush strokes across his temple hair.

Channel 13 runs the first of six new two-hour "Saint" episodes tonight at 8 in a Friday cycle labeled "The Mystery Wheel of Adventure." "The Saint" will share the slot with three Dick Francis tales about detective David Cleveland, as played by Ian McShane. The first Francis story goes on Oct. 27.

The Saint was created in the 1920s by Leslie Charteris and went through various incantations in books, radio series, TV and film. Among the saintly casts have been George Sanders, Louis Hayward and Hugh Sinclair in the movies; Edgar Barrier, Brian Ahern, Vincent Price, Tom Conway (Sanders' brother) and Barry Sullivan on radio, and Roger Moore and Ian Ogilvy on the telly.

The bad news is that the episode tonight, "The Brazilian Connection," about some byzantine baby selling ring, is unreasonably boring. If the producers were going for cool, they drifted over that deadly line that seperates style and dullness.

Simon sees a baby being kidnaped and sets out to investigate. Turns out that 16,000 babies were stolen in Brazil last year and sold off for 20,000 each or more.

Not a bad premise, and Dutton seems a reasonable choice for saintly duty. But he and his fellow players have nothing much to say or do in what is conversely a thin and bloated script. Even the generic music employed to pump excitement into a meaningless chase in the climax seems not to care.

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