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TV REVIEWS : Ghosts of '70s No-Brainers Haunt 'Hoods' and 'Heaven'

August 25, 1994|CHRIS WILLMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

They don't make 'em like this anymore.

"Robin's Hoods" and "Heaven Help Us," two new Aaron Spelling series premiering in syndication tonight, both play like perfect "SCTV"-style parodies of the '70s glory days of high-concept, no-brainer TV fantasy hours. Is it possible these could indeed be the failed pilot scripts of 15 years ago, pulled out of mothballs to fill the pipeline? All that's missing are the sideburns and jiggling.

"Robin's Hoods" arrives with an almost deliriously silly premise: An assistant district attorney, Brett Robin (Linda Purl, too good for this), inherits her late husband's nightclub, which she finds is improbably staffed by four fabulous babes and one hunka hunka burnin' Diet Coke. What do the five absolutely comely barkeeps have in common, besides looking like refugees from "Models Inc."? Why, they're all ex-cons --whose mug shots, hilariously, look right out of a portfolio--and, having been hired as part of a parole diversion program, they all just want a chance .

Will the con-hating district attorney and club owner get past her one-strike-and-yer-out bias and keep the reformed kids on, or kick 'em back into the pen? In tonight's premiere, all five "hoods" help Mrs. Robin solve the mystery of her husband's recent murder--ensuring that the four gals, at least, will continue modeling swell halters instead of those nasty, midriff-covering prison blues.

Oh, yes: Country star Collin Raye pops up at the club, right about the time you're expecting B. J. Thomas.

"Heaven Help Us" is no slouch in the jaw-dropper department either. John Schneider and Melinda Clarke co-star as newlyweds whose two-seater plane crashes into a high-rise as they attempt mile-high lovemaking mere minutes after marrying. Short series, you think, but after the first commercial, the couple is still around; now Schneider is the Duke of Valhalla, and Clarke is the ghostess with the mostess--easy-on-the-eyes phantoms too good-looking to be made quite immaterial.

Their angelic guide through the afterlife is Ricardo Montalban, who seems to relish teasing them about their purgatorial status: "There is an up place, there is a down place"; the couple's direction will depend on how well they help people. Spiritist jests abound as the newly-deads intervene to save the marriage of Clarke's parents and earn their wings. "Time flies when you're having eternity!" quips Montalban, speaking for few of us.

* "Heaven Help Us" premieres at 8 tonight, followed by "Robin's Hoods" at 9 on KCOP-TV Channel 13.

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