NBC changes the tone of its classy Wednesday night lineup by offering a tawdry throwback to the glamour days of “Dallas” and “Dynasty.” “Titans,” Charles Pratt Jr.’s revamp of Aaron Spelling’s classic primetime soap operas, moves the action to Beverly Hills, where the antics of the wealthy Williams clan take place with the conniving Heather (Yasmine Bleeth) as the evil force that drives the mayhem. Show is seemingly dumped in the 8 o’clock hour, where it will face stiff competition from ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and lose at least a few eyeballs to CBS’ Bette Midler starrer. And that’s before fans of older soaps get a load of the preposterous plot.
Perry King plays Richard Williams, the self-made head of a conglom, who lives in a palatial spread across the street from the more modest home of his ex-wife Gwen Davis (Victoria Principal). Friction is about to set in as Williams is about to be married to Heather.
But Heather has a nasty past, one that includes a fortnight’s worth of a rendezvous with Williams’ son Chandler (Casper Van Dien), a Navy pilot who has decided to move home and become part of the family business. His grand dilemma is whether to tell dad how well he knows Heather.
The Williams family is mostly ne’er-do-wells: the jealous, martini-swilling Peter (John Barrowman), the financial wheeler-dealer of the family; sister Jenny (Elizabeth Bogush), a recovering alcoholic who returns to the bottle before discovering her boyfriend of three weeks is married; and sister Laurie (Josie Davis), running a nightclub with bitterness and venom coursing through her veins.
Add to this mixture Samantha (Lourdes Benedicto), the now-stunning daughter of the former cleaning lady who carries crushes (Chandler) and grudges (Heather) as she handles the day-to-day running of the household. She’s also quick on the draw when it comes to running rumors from household to household.
Show lacks the humor of the promo spots, which suggest this is more spoof than standard fare. All of the acting is over the top, but not on a camp level, as Pratt’s script quickly introduces the characters and marches the happy couple down the aisle, sans pre-nuptial agreement, but with many a wary eye. Heather spills a bucket of beans as Chandler hands her over to his father: She’s pregnant with his child.
Bleeth is the real calling card here, and between the photography, editing and her onscreen charm, Heather is a cast-in-stone bitch. An eminently watchable actress, Bleeth has an allure that goes far beyond the average prurient sex appeal of “Baywatch” alums, and her stints on the daytime soaps “Ryan’s Hope” and “One Life to Live” definitely pay off in this new gig.
Van Dien has to react rather than act through most of the pilot, and it’s unclear where his character is headed. He hooks up, ever so briefly, with Scott (Jason Winston George) of Williams Aviation, suggesting their relationship will be fodder of future episodes. Likewise, Samantha has the potential to be another demon, and Benedicto’s face telegraphs her every emotion.
Director Charles Correll keeps the action moving at a brisk pace and the veneer of the classic soaps is omnipresent.