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THE FALL TV SEASON

'Jake 2.0': tech fun in small bytes

UPN's sci-fi/fantasy show about a computer nerd upgraded to superhero could work if it doesn't get too silly.

September 10, 2003|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Jake Foley is about to learn a lesson the hard way, the one about being careful what you wish for.

A computer technician at the National Security Agency, Jake would love to become a secret agent, swapping his geeky little job for a life of glamour and intrigue. When a shootout erupts at a classified government lab, he gets caught in the cross-fire and accidentally injected with nanites -- microscopic machines that can do amazing things, at least in science fiction. Such is the premise for UPN's "Jake 2.0," which premieres tonight at 9.

Jake emerges with such intense strength and sensory powers that the NSA creates a covert team for him to run. The downside is that now everyone, it seems, wants to kill or capture him to recover the experimental nanotechnology inside.

This too is a sci-fi/fantasy convention, dating back at least as far as "Fantastic Voyage" (remember Raquel Welch and others traveling through a human bloodstream?), Matthew Broderick's "Project X" and all the way up to the "X-Men," "Spider-Man" and "The Hulk" movies, in which mutants are alternately hunted and recruited. Television earlier offered the police drama/fantasy "Manimal," in which the hero could turn into any animal. The latest to be inspired by this improbable premise, "Jake 2.0" is a promising lightweight action romp from creator Silvio Horta.

Christopher Gorham ("Felicity") brings an amiable awkwardness to the title role in the manner of a young "Ed." He becomes not just a transformed Jake Foley but a modern, more-human incarnation of "The Six Million Dollar Man" -- Col. Steve Austin without the hairspray and robotic personality.

Jake also reconnects with his unrequited college crush, Sarah Heywood (Marina Black, "Six Feet Under"), which figures to be another good news-bad news deal as the courtship evolves. Sarah, now working in Washington as a senatorial aide, has a personal interest in the NSA's hush-hush business, which puts both her and Jake in harm's way.

In tonight's show, Jake must try to rescue Sarah from Irish Republican Army kidnappers who really are after him, interested in possessing this prototypical future warrior. Along with his wits, he calls on his magnified vision, heightened hearing and the ability to communicate telepathically with computers.

The cast also includes Philip Anthony-Rodriguez ("Enterprise") and Judith Scott ("CSI: Crime Scene Investigation") as senior agents, Keegan Connor Tracy ("Final Destination 2") as a research doctor and Matt Czuchry ("Young Americans") as the comic relief, Jake's slacker roommate on the make.

"Jake 2.0" can go too far in asking us to suspend disbelief. The computer telepathy stuff makes it a tad too easy to open any door, and the keen hearing apparently comes with an uncanny filtering ability.

OK, so this isn't exactly a "Nova" nanotech special, but it could be fun if it doesn't get too silly. As one of Jake's new bosses tells him tonight, "This is your chance. Don't waste it."

*

'Jake 2.0'

Where: UPN

When: Tonight at 9

Rating: The network has rated it TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children)

Christopher Gorham...Jake Foley

Keegan Connor Tracy...Diane Hughes

Marina Black...Sarah Heywood

Philip Anthony-Rodriguez...Kyle Duarte

Judith Scott...Louise Beckett

Writer-creator Silvio Horta. Director Rob Lieberman. Executive producers Horta, David Greenwalt, Gina Matthews, Grant Scharbo.

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