Review: ‘Raven’

It is mandatory that any anthology of "Video from the '90s" include this pilot, as it contains, in museum-quality perfection, every cliche and derivative banality known to prime time action television.

It is mandatory that any anthology of “Video from the ’90s” include this pilot, as it contains, in museum-quality perfection, every cliche and derivative banality known to prime time action television.

Here are the key components:

Young Hunk: Jonathon Raven (Jeffrey Meek), whose father was an Interpol agent killed by the Black Dragons, a sinister cabal of assassins and terrorists. A skilled martial arts fighter (and former Green Beret), Raven infiltrated the Dragons and took retribution by causing the membership acute grief.

Now, he is trying to find his long-lost son. But the fuming Dragons want to take revenge by finding the child first and subjecting it to a fate worse than death.

Old Hunk: “Ski” (Lee Majors) is an alcoholic, cigar-smoking, consumptive private eye, who served in the Special Forces with Raven and won a Medal of Honor. Of course, he couldn’t be more cuddly.

Location: Hawaii (has North Dakota ever had a series?)

Mission: According to the network, Raven and Ski “traverse the country looking for Raven’s long-lost son and use their sharply honed skills to help the underdog.”

Pilot Underdog: Ken Tanaka (Clyde Kusatsu) owns the singles nightclub where Raven works temporarily as a bartender.

To summarize an insufferably long backstory, the Yakuza (Japanese mob) has it in for Ken. More important, they will take revenge by subjecting his daughter to a fate worse than death.

Imperiled Daughter: Yes, you called it. Kim (Tamlyn Tomita) is beautiful and in dire need of assistance.

Violence and Sex: There are three conventional Kung Fu-ish interludes, each with gunfire. The conclusion features some extended Kung Fu-ing and a symbolically cleansing fire. In regards to sex, there are a few brief thigh and bust shots, but no male-female body contact.

Best Line: After Raven saves his boss from four assassins, Ken says: “Whatever it is I’m paying you for, it’s not enough.”

Resolution: You can safely bet a large block of Microsoft stock that Raven and Ski thwart the Yakuza, elude the Black Dragons, emancipate Ken and Kim, receive heartfelt appreciation and move on down the road to help the next hapless underdogs they come across.

Prognosis: A hardcore audience of demented young men and addled old geezers seem to savor this rubbish. Some young women may also celebrate Meek’s hunkiness , his haunted anguish over the missing son and all the Oriental mumbo jumbo. On top of that, Meek is quite good in this role.

A long shot in the ratings, but a must for any historical or joke reel.


(Wed. (24), 9-10:30 p.m., CBS-TV)


Filmed in Hawaii by Invader Prods. Inc., in association with Columbia Pictures Television. Exec producers, Frank Lupo, John Ashley; director, Craig R. Baxley; writer, Lupo.


Camera, John R. Leonetti; editors, Barry B. Leirer, Barry L. Gold; sound, Stan Gordon; music, Christopher Frank; production designer, Bill Malley.


Cast: Jeffrey Meek, Lee Majors, Clyde Kusatsu, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Erika Anderson, Tamlyn Tomita, Seth Sakai, John Williams, M.C. Gainey, Carmella Barut, Mark Morales, Carla A. Holmes, Dean Kaneshiro, Jake Feagai, Josh C. Williams, James Lew, Tony Fair, Harold Iseke, Scott Olghterson, Nasayo Ho, Carolyn Bosanko , Elizabeth Lindsey, Joey Awon, Dennis Chun.
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