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TV REVIEWS : 'TekWar' Surrenders to Sci-Fi Sillies

January 19, 1994|CHRIS WILLMAN

From "Trek" to "Tek," a.k.a. Drek.

No one will confuse actor-author-director and former "Star Trek"-er William Shatner's TV movie "TekWar" (at 8 tonight m. on KTLA Channel 5) with serious science-fiction--least of all Shatner, apparently, who at least seems to have a good handle on just how preposterous his auteur endeavor is. The cheeseball futurism here is just barely silly enough to qualify as watchable.

Sometime in the 2040s, hero Jake Cardigan (Greg Evigan) gets a wake-up call after a four-year slumber in the "cryobionic penal institute." (And we'll have none of those Bobbitt jokes here.) A la "Demolition Man," this ex-cop was doing some prison time in the deep freeze after being disgraced on a bum rap. Once sprung, Cardigan finds himself unjustly deserted by his wife and kid, which leaves him plenty of free time to take up the job offer from his mysterious springer, Bascom (Shatner).

His first private-investigative assignment from Bascom is to track down a missing professor who developed a chip that would render useless all the technology used for the deadly Tek, which is a highly addictive form of virtual reality. On this quest (and no doubt in future ones), Cardigan ends up teaming up with another ex-cop, who's black, and an android, who's female--making this seem a lot like "The Mod Squad Visits Wild Palms."

Don't worry too much about keeping up with the Tek-heads, as the dialogue stays on the basic side.

"I'm an android--a level 10," says Beth (Torri Higginson).

"At least," replies Cardigan, who knows an 11 when he sees one.

"Don't underestimate my capacity for human emotion," says she, stepping into the shower. "Would you come in and wash my back?"

It gets goofier. There's action in a hockey rink--with a robot knocking killer pucks at Cardigan--for no immediately apparent reason other than that "TekWar" was filmed in Toronto.

Best of all, there's singer Sheena Easton in a climactic cameo as a woman named Warbride who leads a radical environmentalist group in the wilderness. Easton, erstwhile health-spa pitchperson turned guerrilla messiah, wears a form-fitting camouflage halter-top. Down with the earth-scorching robber barons, up with va-va-va- voom!

Next month: "TekLords," the sequel, in which we can only hope the android and the Lifecyclist get in a cat fight over Jake.

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