Cars are the stars in “Bandit” from Universal’s rotating “Action Pack” series of syndicated two-hour dramas. Brian Bloom stars as title character, originally played by Burt Reynolds in the hit “Smokey and the Bandit” films; TV version makes one long for the relative sophistication of the original — or even “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
Bloom is pleasant enough as an updated version of the outlaw, here civilized enough to be named grand marshal of big-time stock car race.
Driving around in a Dodge Stealth, he’s clad in a seemingly bottomless wardrobe of Garth Brooks-style big-stripe Western shirts, topped with a black cowboy hat like country singer Clint Black, whom he somewhat resembles. Characters played by Sally Field, Jackie Gleason and Jerry Reed are MIA.
Kathy Ireland in this episode plays the former g.f. of gangster Lucky Bergstrom (Tony Curtis in a virtual walk-on); she’s on the lam and pursued by his henchmen, an FBI agent (Mark Joy), a bounty hunter (Joe Cortese) and — briefly — a pair of bumbling local deputies, eager to one-up the feds.
Assisting Bandit are a busload of nudists (don’t ask), an Elvis Presley impersonator (ditto), and eventually the bounty hunter.
Main problem, surprisingly in a Hal Needham vehicle, is too much talk and not enough action — the fair-to-good set-piece stunt scenes are separated by long stretches of needless exposition. The promising deputy characters (Wallace Merck , Alex Van) are abandoned too soon.
Noticeable in David Chisholm’s script is a fair amount of raunchy language.
Look of film, shot in North Carolina, is OK; acting appropriately is on a level with the script.