Review: ‘Muscle’

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.

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.

Muscle

Wed. (11), 9-10 p.m., KTLA

Production

Taped at Sunset Gower Studios by Boone County Prods., Witt/Thomas Prods. and Warner Bros. Exec producers, Paul Witt, Tony Thomas, Rob LaZebnik. Co-exec producer, Jonathan Schmock. Producer, Robert Heath. Co-producer, Dan McGrath. Director, Will Mackenzie; writer-creator, LaZebnik.

Crew

Lighting designer, J. Kent Inasy; production designer, David Sackeroff; art director, Michael Hynes; audio, Michael Ganon; music, Mark Mothersbaugh.

Cast

Cast: Wendy Benson, Michael Boatman, Nestor Carbonell, Dan Gauthier, Stephen (Tower) Henneberry, Shannon Kenny, Jerry Levine, Amy Pietz, Alan Ruck, T.E. Russell, Michole White, Adam West, Maree Cheatam, Jack Wallace, Brent Hinkley, Valorie Armstrong, Myra Turley, Lisa Coles, Alexander Polinsky.
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