It’s madcap time at Survival Gym as the denizens establish their roles, crack wise, go frantic, toss in some headshaking dialogue and move at a good clip under Will Mackenzie’s smart direction. This third half-hour entry from the Warner Bros. net (intro’d with a 60-minute opener) boasts crudities, viciousness, vulgarities, name-drops, and a cruel comment about at least one real celeb; “Muscle,” slippery as the 1970s “Soap,” could outfox Fox in the grunge department. And if it wasn’t opposite “Roseanne” on ABC, it could be a sure winner.
Laboring with a heavy-handed laff track, farce brings on ruthless Jane Atkinson (Shannon Kenny), whose gym-owning husband (Adam West) kicks off when he finds her in the steam room with his son (Dan Gauthier).
Trainer Cleo (Wendy Benson), sour/sweet actress who’ll do anything to hit stardom, has a deep secret she’s trying to cover, and parolee Robert Bingham (Jerry Levine), sniffing money, sets out on promoting bodybuilding trainer Sam Pippin (Stephen (Tower) Henneberry).
Writer-creator Rob LaZebnik is at no loss for fertile plotting, but rolls out coarse observations. Kenny turns in a comically valid study, Alan Ruck is a whiz as a psychiatrist, Gauthier’s surefire and Henneberry does a good job.
Benson’s two-faced actress is funny, Levine is shrewdly amusing, Nestor Carbonell gives a rich interp of an Italian gigolo. Production designer David Sackeroff does a bangup job.
LaZebnik and fellow exec producers Paul Witt and Tony Thomas may have struck a blow for WB.