Review: ‘Smart Sex’

The names may have changed but the stories seemingly remain the same, as MTV again taps into the consciousness -- or in some cases the unconsciousness -- of Generation X-ers who share their views on having sex in these dangerous times.

The names may have changed but the stories seemingly remain the same, as MTV again taps into the consciousness — or in some cases the unconsciousness — of Generation X-ers who share their views on having sex in these dangerous times.

But the cable channel has been here before, as it again presents a succession of under-25 types who espouse their takes on sex in the ’90s and the role of safe sex or “Smart Sex,” as the spec heralds it.

The hour offers the expected cross-section of the populace, showing viewers how indiscriminate the AIDS virus and sexually transmitted diseases are, and how it can strike across the board whether or not the individuals are gay, straight, single or married. While the producers do a good job presenting all sides of the issue from an array of perspectives, show covers the same ground and offers the same viewpoints heard in earlier MTV specs. ]

And the channel’s repeated hammering of the protected sex or abstinence message is bound to fall on deaf ears.

In fact, spec succeeds in finding a knothead who still has multiple unprotected sexual liaisons, boasting that if the girl gives him a condom he’ll take it off “when she’s not looking.”

Other participants are more sensitive, detailing how their habits have changed through awareness of the risks.

Spec hears from a pair of college roommates who insist on having protected sex with the women they date, and an actress wannabe who buys her own condoms because guys too often won’t. A couple who has had sex without intercourse admits they’re “getting real close” to having the real thing.

While there’s a sense of “life goes on” to many of the vignettes, a segment featuring an HIV-positive mom whose husband recently died of AIDS is the most poignant, and ironically the shortest.

By articulating her uneasiness about her future and the ability to care for their toddler son, she underscores the show’s point — that it can happen to anyone, anywhere.

No abstinence-themed spec would be complete without former L.A. Lakers basketball star A.C. Green, who here is shown visiting an inner-city high school.

He and reps of his A.C. Green Foundation advise abstinence to their impressionable charges (Green has publicly proclaimed himself to be a virgin).

His girlfriend delivers the impassioned, yet humorous plea to abstain from sex, and also professes her preference to wait until marriage.

But show’s 10 p.m. school night slot, and lack of new angles, may bore viewers other than those who have tuned in to see themselves, their town or school on the tube.

With backing from Linda Ellerbee and hosting by Christian Slater, show has all the earmarks of worthiness. But since it hasn’t anything new to offer, channel surfers may think it’s a rerun and head to Nick at Nite instead.

Smart Sex

(Tues. (27), 10-11 p.m., MTV)

Production

Filmed in California, New York, Oklahoma, Florida, New Mexico by Lucky Duck Prods. in association with MTV. Executive producers, Linda Ellerbee, Rolfe Tessem; producers, Bob Brienza, Lisa Jackson; director, Jackson.

Crew

Editors, David Lyons, Joe Klotz; camera, Nancy Schriber; sound, Grant Maxwell; music, Bang Music; theme, Stephen Cullo.

Cast

Host: Christian Slater.
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