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TV Review

UPN's 'Legacy' Won't Leave Much of One

October 09, 1998|HOWARD ROSENBERG | TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

UPN's new "Legacy" benefits from having lovely horse pictures and from being the only network drama series airing at 8 p.m. Fridays. So much for the positives, for it's also flat and bland, a regional period saga with no sense of region or period. Nor much saga.

Although the series is shot in Virginia, the setting is meant to be a prosperous horse farm near Lexington, Ky., in the 1880s. It is operated by the virtuous Logan family: Ned the wise widower patriarch (Brett Cullen); his two grown sons, Sean (Grayson McCouch) and Clay (Jeremy Garrett); and his two daughters, teenager Alice (Lea Moreno) and little Lexy (Sarah Rayne).

They are joined tonight by Jeremy Bradford (Ron Melendez), a 17-year-old (going on 27) orphan from New York whose larcenous streak is eclipsed by his good heart.

Although the sun shines brightly on this old Kentucky home, Alice has a crush on Jeremy, who is feuding with Clay, and although Sean is engaged to someone else, he's secretly in love with his father's secretary. Sure, there are problems, but when calamity strikes tonight, everyone pulls together.

And in general, when putting aside differences and operating as a unit, this high-minded extended brood seems at least a match for its archenemy, the conniving Winters family, whose devious, sneering, eldest son clashes with Jeremy and seems destined to irritate the Logans indefinitely.

*

The first two "Legacy" episodes traffic tediously in pat, sweetened endings, and elements of tonight's story are driven by artificial conveniences that glare in bright neon. In order for Jeremy to be accused of theft at a formal ball, for example, he must remove his tuxedo jacket when dancing so that someone can plant a gold watch in his pocket.

The thin, predictable plots would be more tolerable if "Legacy" at least had some texture, something beyond horses and swanky manor houses that would more intimately connect viewers to the setting in which this series is supposed to exist. But there's nothing especially blue about this grass. Although the guys have heartthrob emblazoned all over them, they and the other major characters are totally homogenous. A couple make weak stabs at Kentucky accents, while everyone else ranges from Midwest to Valley girl.

They're so unpersuasive, in fact, that you can almost see the wardrobe tags on their costumes. Stephen Foster must be twisting in his grave.

*

* "Legacy" premieres at 8 tonight on UPN (Channel 13). The network has rated it TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children).

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