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Television Review

Indiana Jones Meets 'V.I.P.' in Adventure-Seeking 'Relic Hunter'

September 25, 1999|STEVEN LINAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Move over, Indy.

There's a new adventurer on the airwaves whose name is Sydney Fox. And what a fox she is, as played by the tantalizing Tia Carrere in "Relic Hunter," a belated knockoff of the Indiana Jones sagas.

Minutes into this derivative hour, we realize Carrere's history professor is no stuffy student of archeology as she shimmies her shapely torso while demonstrating an ancient tribal dance for an assortment of amused pupils.

Moments later, Syd's down to skimpy underwear as she converses with her new teaching assistant, the bookish Brit Nigel Bailey (Christien Anholt).

So much for easy-on-the-eyes escapism. After its first 10 minutes, "Relic Hunter" settles for formulaic fluff and fisticuffs as the globe-trotting Syd sets out in search of artifacts and lost treasures.

Clearly, the producers are setting the tone for a jaunty, occasionally jokey production not to be taken seriously by its audience, much of which is likely to be young males who made Pamela Anderson Lee's vacuous "V.I.P." so popular last season. Though "Relic" is a cut above Lee's action-oriented antics, it's in need of brisk pacing and sturdier stories.

In the opener, Syd and Nigel travel to Nepal to retrieve a 4,000-year-old alms bowl once owned by Buddha. Along the way, they predictably encounter a shady rival (Tony Rosato).

A mistress of the martial arts, the captivating Carrere acquits herself capably, giving Syd a strong spine and tough, fearless quality that plays off the intellectual, ill-at-ease Nigel, a fish-out-of-water in the field.

Calling Harrison Ford. . . .

* "Relic Hunter" premieres today at 5 p.m. on KCOP. The network has rated it TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children).

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