“Cleopatra 2525” is a clear sign that nothing much has changed since reaching the millennial milestone — at least not to the teenage boys syndicator Studios USA targets with this series featuring scantily clad, bosomy babes cat-fighting their way around the globe to do battle for the greater good. After all, somebody has to give Pamela Anderson’s “VIP” a run for its money.
Part of a new syndicated “Back 2 Back Action Hour” (with the costumer “Jack of All Trades”) from Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi’s Renaissance Pictures, creators of “Xena: Warrior Princess,” “Cleopatra” is a futuristic romp that boasts strong female heroines and some camp humor that doesn’t require viewers to think too much. Running a mere half-hour, it’s faster-paced, though not as immediately accessible, as “Journeys of Hercules,” the hourlong it half replaces.Show hews closely to the formula of skin and mythology that works so well in the genre, and background for “Cleopatra” is summed up early in the show’s theme song — a crude bastardization of Zager & Evans’ 1969 hit “In the Year 2525.” Through this little ditty, we learn that: “In the year 2025, man fell asleep a technological fool and woke up one day under mechanical rule.”
As a result, humans have retreated underground while robotic beasts, called Bailies, roam the surface. Over the years, the underground population has divided into various subgroups, including genetic mutants, black-market mercenaries and human-looking Betrayer robots sent by the Bailies to squelch agitators.
Two female warriors, Hel (Gina Torres) and Sarge (Victoria Pratt) are part of a group fighting to reclaim the surface of the Earth. They swing through the underground labyrinth like 26th century Tarzans, venturing to different levels above and below ground to fight the enemy, as dictated by a mysterious voice that speaks to Hel — no, I’m not making this up — through her jaw.During a particularly hazardous mission, the two stumble upon Cleopatra (Jennifer Sky), a young woman from 2001 who was cryogenically frozen after falling into a coma during a routine “boob job.” In her time, Cleopatra was a Valley Girl — a Glendale Community College acting student and sometime exotic dancer.
Despite her propensity for screaming and fainting, her gift for mimicry saves the three in a battle with a hostile cyborg, and she is summarily recruited to be a part of this Charlie’s/Hell’s Angels team.
Acting here is unremarkable, although Pratt as Sarge, the woman with a shadowy past, grimaces at the right moments and looks as if she could really kick some serious butt. Torres, the Sabrina Duncan of the trio, if you will, offers a more pensive performance, while Sky does her best to personify a “plucky” heroine.
Production values are a mixed bag of impressive special effects and seemingly leftover studio sets from the days of the original “Star Trek.” In fact, Janet Holland’s costume design for our femme fatales appear to be selected by Captain James T. Kirk himself, a man who never could resist a woman with a bare midriff.
The music of Joseph LoDuca, Emmy nominated for his work on “Xena” and “Hercules,” continues to exceed all other tech credits.