Review: ‘The Watcher’

The Twilight Zone" hits the Las Vegas strip in this anthology series, which begins on a promising note.

The Twilight Zone” hits the Las Vegas strip in this anthology series, which begins on a promising note.

As with any anthology, the real trick will be how well the show holds up, but the fledgling United Paramount Network has at least found a project nicely attuned to its demographicambitions.

That target is young men, and “The Watcher” plays to their sensibility with its macabre overtones (witness the audience makeup of “The X-Files”) as well as plenty of gratuitous female flesh.

In the latter regard, the hour almost seems an homage to the videos of rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot, who plays the title character. Though he may seem an odd choice for this sort of assignment, Mix brings a droll wit to his character — a mysterious figure observing the goings-on in Vegas from his high-tech perch atop a casino.

The opening hour interweaves three plots, the foremost involving two youths drawn into a scheme by an older man (Bill Bolender) to bilk casinos. “Alf” alumnus Max Wright also turns up as an unscrupulous hypnotist who uses his skills to bed buxom young women, while the least-developed segment involves a couple whose relationship is sorely tested by compulsive gambling.

More than anything, “The Watcher” has a nifty feel to it, down to the commercial breaks (where, in a true sign of the times, the title character zaps his way from image to image) and jaunty score.

The hour, under director John McPherson, also makes fine use of the Vegas locales, and if the leering photography proves a bit much, it’s perhaps understandable vying for attention in a marketplace that’s made a hit out of “Baywatch.”

Performances are solid in the first episode, and writers/producers Christopher Crowe and Frederick J. Lyle do a nice job of loosely connect the plots.

UPN can be thankful in one regard, since the new WB Network would make just about anything look like “Masterpiece Theater.” While it’s too early for an unqualified thumbs-up, “The Watcher” will, pardon the expression, bear watching.

The Watcher

(Tue. (17), 9-10 p.m., UPN/KCOP)

Production

Filmed in Las Vegas by Christopher Crowe Prods. in association with Paramount TV. Exec producer/creator, Christopher Crowe; co-exec producers, Andrew Mirisch, Steve Bello; supervising producer, Frederick J. Lyle; producers, Thomas R. Polizzi, Lindsley Parsons III; director, John McPherson; writers, Crowe, Lyle; story by Crowe.

Crew

Camera, Robert A. Hudecek; editor, Barry Leirer; production design, Anthony Cowley; art direction, Gina Cranham; sound, Will Yarbrough; music, Joel Goldsmith.

Cast

Cast: Sir Mix-A-Lot, Bobbie Phillips, Bill Bolender, Walton Goggins, Joe Pennell, Max Wright, Erik King, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Gary Grubbs, John M. Jackson, Kathy Ireland.
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