Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Rinko Kikuchi and

Ignore those funky Canadian accents, and "MVP" is a passable nighttime soap -- using hockey (!) as a slick backdrop to its bed-hopping shenanigans.

Ignore those funky Canadian accents, and “MVP” is a passable nighttime soap — using hockey (!) as a slick backdrop to its bed-hopping shenanigans. The first hour alone features every imaginable serial cliche, from a sudden death to the sex-tape-making stud and the spoiled rich girl who says, “You work for me. Now take your pants off!” All told, it’s a natural fit for Soapnet — ABC’s second-chance cabler for daytime serials — and receives an overtime showing on ABC following this week’s Daytime Emmys. So nothing new here, but like, not bad, eh?

Following in the tradition of BBC America’s “Footballers’ Wives” and ESPN’s “Playmakers” (which the network canceled to mollify the image-conscious NFL), the toned bodies of a pro sports franchise really just provide an excuse for frothy fun, with special emphasis on the women enmeshed in this glamorous milieu.

Granted, the players spend a lot more time between the sheets than on the ice, particularly the emotionally blunted Damon Trebuchet (Peter Miller), who tapes his sexual conquests, and Gabe McCall (Lucas Bryant), the squad captain who begins courting a wide-eyed young teacher (Connie Lewis) who’s both flattered and confused by the attention.

Poor Evelyn McBride (Deborah Odell), meanwhile, has to grapple with the team’s heartless response to the overdose death of her husband, which makes it possible for the team to pay a naive young rookie sensation (Dillon Casey), whose provincial values appear destined to be tested by the temptations that accompany life as a sports star.

“MVP” is more of a roster-filling journeyman in TV terms, but, title notwithstanding, at least it makes no pretense of being anything more, with an attractive, unevenly talented cast and its relentlessly sleazy doings. It’s worth noting, too, that despite the 11 p.m. timeslot, there’s nothing in the premiere, anyway, so racy as to be considered inappropriate for primetime.

The premise surely carried a little more weight in hockey-mad Canada, but for Soapnet, the series essentially represents a fresh but inexpensive garnish to its lineup of soap reruns. By that modest measure, “MVP” should achieve its goal.


Soapnet, Thurs. June 19, 11 p.m.


Filmed in Toronto by Screen Door. Executive producers, Mary Young Leckie, Heather Haldane; directors, Lena Cordina, T.W. Peacocke; director, Peacocke; writers, Kent Staines, Sherry White.


Camera, Glenn Warner; production designer, Ian Brock; editor, Mike Lee; music, Gary Koftinoff; casting, Forrest and Forrest. RUNNING TIME: 60 MIN.


Gabe McCall - Lucas Bryant Connie Lewis - Kristin Booth Evelyn - Deborah Odell Molly McBride - Natalie Krill Damon Trebuchet - Peter Miller Trevor Lemonde - Dillon Casey Tabbi - Anastasia Phillips
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