Filmed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, by Keller Entertainment Group and Western Intl. Syndication in association with Balenciaga Prods. Executive producers, Max Keller, Jacques Konckier, Micheline Keller; co-executive producers, Arthur M. Lieberman, Chris Lancey, Francois Lesterlin; producer, Peter Chesney; directors, Frank Wayne, Chuck Bail; writers, Harry Ackerman, Charles Henry Fabian; Move over, Hercules and Xena. Some beefcake-y company has arrived in the ever-so-buff form of Conan — the one who wades through forests, not monologues — and it will surprise few that the guy is often as clueless as he is shirtless. Saturday episode of the series that launched in September finds “Conan” in mid-wheezin’ form, struggling to poke fun at itself without acknowledging that the whole enterprise is a goof to begin with.
Show succeeds mostly in elevating the grunt to an art form and promoting the loincloth/headband ensemble as a fashion statement. We’re also treated to a few decent sword fights.
Where “Conan” runs into trouble is when its characters are moved to speak.
Conan: “If it rains, the water will rise.” Nothing gets past this guy.
Episode, entitled “The Ruby Fruit Forest,” finds the washboard-toned Conan (Ralf Moeller) looking for gems in all the wrong places with his pint-size pal Otli (Danny Woodburn), the dreadlocked Bayu (T.J. Storm) and the bald-headed, mute Zzeben (Robert McCray), who must have been rendered speechless after discovering what his parents had named him.
As closely as can be determined from weak script by Harry Ackerman and Charles Henry Fabian, the Conan gang is forced to trek into the forest after dwarf Otli disappears. They finally locate Otli, living with a bunch of pioneer environmentalists who have painted their faces to resemble the flag of some unknown European nation. The paint does nothing for their intellect, since they have determined that Otli isn’t a man but a god — the primeval equivalent of appointing Herve Villechaize prime minister on his looks alone.
Anyway, they all go searching for rubies, soon to be joined by a bunch of bad guys wearing headgear that resembles metal versions of the Water Buffalo Lodge hats on “The Flintstones.” This makes it instantly difficult to take them seriously.
“Take me to the stones,” commands Bayu to a young boy. And how many of us have heard that same demand from our spouses recently?
Things get progressively weirder as the hour, directed by Chuck Bail, moves along. A forest girl is moved to ask the mute Zzeben, “If you could speak, what would you say to me?” Whoops, sorry, can’t talk. Try a yes-or-no question, please.
Then a wizard suddenly shows up and turns a woman into a dog before conducting a conversation with a disembodied, talking skull that has the uncanny ability to give Conan location updates when fed a ruby.
“Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and “Xena: Warrior Princess” are positively highbrow compared with “Conan,” whose self-aware cheeky elements fall flat. Moeller proves somewhat charisma-challenged as the Conemeister, good with a sword but lame with a line. Not that he’s given much to utter in the first place.
McCray is the lucky one. He doesn’t have to say anything, allowing his grunts to speak for themselves. Puerto Vallarta location scenery is gorgeous. Tech credits are fine.