Two-hour pilot for highly promoted new Fox Western-adventure has the look of a hit — the fact is, it has the look of any number of hits, most of all the “Indiana Jones” trilogy. Writer-producers Jeffrey Boam and Carlton Cuse aim for a funny action-adventure and succeed, but pic is clever without being especially smart. Sounds about right for the 8 p.m. hour where ABC’s “Young Indiana Jones” was too smart for its own good.
The son of a highly respected U.S. marshal (R. Lee Ermey), younger Brisco (Bruce Campbell) is hired by a quintet of robber barons to, in effect, avenge his father’s death at the hands of a gang of bad guys.
The real target — and series’ maguffin — is a mysterious, round, power-giving object unearthed by a crew of coolies and impounded by the government. You might call this episode “Raiders of the Lost Orb.”
If anybody’s entitled to shamelessly rip off (er, appropriate) the tone of Indiana Jones films, it might as well be Boam, who scripted “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” as well as two “Lethal Weapon” pics. But that’s not all he borrows from; sources range from TV’s “Maverick” to pics “Back to the Future” and “Support Your Local Sheriff.”
Like Indy, Brisco is a university-educated adventurer, only more skilled and less humble. Dashing in his own way but a bit bland, Campbell is no Harrison Ford.
Interesting supporting characters include Anne Tremko as the spunky daughter of whacked-out scientist Professor Wickwire (John Astin, in the Christopher Lloyd part) and John Pyper-Ferguson as a combination of the Bruce Dern and Jack Elam roles in “Local Sheriff”: a philosophical, deranged bad guy.
Director Bryan Spicer has a strong comic-book visual style, with several scenes shot as if in 3-D, objects whizzing into and around the camera lens. Production values are high.