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TV Reviews : ‘Tarzan,’ ‘Baywatch’ Stand Corrected

Him Tarzan. You enlightened.

Political correctness has reared its ugly head in just about every nook and cranny of Americana by now. But C. “Baywatch”? And C. “Tarzan”? Even these two old mainstays of empty-headedness get with the program in revamped series that make their syndication debuts this weekend.

First up on the educational agenda is “Baywatch,” which makes the switch from a network to a syndicated series with a two-hour season premiere (tonight at 8 on KCOP Channel 13). The plot has our favorite lifeguards battling sensationalistic rumors of a killer sea monster, while the real villain turns out to be--are you ready?--cunning, sinister, illegal-offshore-driller oil magnates.

Topical “messages” aside, the titillating yet innocent “Baywatch” is almost a piece of nostalgia, with its bevy of voluptuous beauties in bathing suits, set in a dorm-like L.A. beach culture that never really existed. It recalls the halcyon days of “Charlie’s Angels"--lots of jiggle but very little likelihood of anyone actually having sex.

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(By the way, be sure to stick around for the end credits, over which star and executive producer David Hasselhoff, uh, sings.)

An even bigger hoot is the new P. C. version of “Tarzan” (premiering with a half-hour episode Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on KCAL Channel 9). Small fry are the target audience, which in no way accounts for the patronizingly imbecilic script or the sort of sleight-of-hand editing that tries to convince you you’re seeing stunt-filled action sequences when you really aren’t.

In this first episode, the wealthy hotel magnate who is funding Jane’s research travels to the jungle and threatens to cut her funding after Cheetah flubs his big demonstration. Naturally, before this city dude comes around to his senses, he gets menaced by lions and alligators--and by earnest speeches about the rapidly disappearing rain forest!

There will be more of this, presumably, as we’re to understand that French-accented Jane (Lydie Denier) is a die-hard environmentalist. Meanwhile, Wolf Larson is the 19th--and probably worst--actor to incarnate Tarzan on the screen, this time as a blond, blue-eyed and blow-dried muscle-bound but scar-free hunk who smiles beatifically at his more civilized buddies. He looks as though he could barely rescue a Greenpeace activist from Rush Limbaugh.

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Need a break from all this quasi-leftish correctness for some bad, old-fashioned right -wing escapism? Try this weekend’s third syndicated drama premiere, “Lightning Force” (Sunday at 6 p.m. on KCAL Channel 9), for the time-tested thrill of bodies being blown away with nary a trace of on-screen blood.

The intelligence leaders of four countries of the Desert Storm alliance--the United States, France, Canada and Egypt--have put together a quartet of anti-terrorist mercenaries to fight baddies all over the globe. In these cost-cutting times, call them the Dirty Third-of-a-Dozen. There’s Wings Hauser as the serious and deadly American, David Stratton as the wise-cracking but deadly Arab, Mark Gomes as the goofy but deadly Canuck, and luscious Guylaine St. Onge as the mini-skirt-wearing but deadly token gal.

These lovable assassins are making the world safe for democracy, Tarzan is making it safe for trees, and the Baywatchers are keeping the beaches oil-free for one-piece bathing suits. Now if only they could all team up to ban the CD long box.


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