Beverly Hills meets the prairie hills in “The Magnificent Seven,” an agreeably yuppie-fied CBS remake of the classic 1960 John Sturges feature of the same name. New series has it over its predecessor in one key area: hair. These are the best-groomed lawless gunslingers you ever did see. The bodies may pile up, but that body never quits. And what spectacular shine! Yes, even back in the post-Civil War 1800s, Jose Eber’s influence lives.
While the true advantages of having smart styling while emptying one’s gun remain uncertain, the two-hour pilot for this dusty, old-fashioned shoot-’em-up Western is nonetheless solid enough entertainment, boasting sharp production values and packed to the gills with macho men doing macho things like drinking whiskey, smoking cigars and squinting their eyes with just the right touch of cowboy menace.
Not that this cast can touch the all-star team that starred in the film. That one featured Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Eli Wallach and Horst Buchholz. The weightiest names in the CBS series are Ron Perlman (TV’s “Beauty and the Beast”), Michael Biehn (“The Terminator”) and Dale Midkiff, who once played Elvis Presley in a miniseries and still looks primed to whip into “Hound Dog” today.
Midseason series, which replaces “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” in the 8 p.m. hour on the CBS Saturday sked through the end of February, stars Biehn and Eric Close as a couple of GQ coverboys who ride into a sleepy little saloon town. They stop the lynching of a former slave (Rick Worthy) at the last minute, pump bullets into a bunch of slobbering bad guys and are straight-away enlisted to recruit a ragtag band of men to save the Seminole tribe from harassment.
Opening script by Frank Q. Dobbs and Chris Black is a little bit “Young Guns” and a little bit “Silverado” (minus the humor), but it works well enough for what they and director Geoff Murphy are going for: A standard cowboys ‘n’ Indians, good vs. evil horse opera where good looks and good shots come together for the good of mankind.
Among the cast, Biehn looks like the standout, lending a quiet swagger to his portrayal that’s captivating. His character is surrounded by performers playing such undesirables as a nerd, a con man and a scoundrel. To be sure, not all of these seven are so magnificent, but “The Pretty Good Seven” doesn’t have quite the same ring.
Opener is bolstered by top-notch period details and technical work. Don Harper’s music is the perfect accompaniment, heavy as it is on that bold Marlboro Man trademark theme. And kudos to the hair stylist, who clearly wields a mean scissors and comb.