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Fall '98: "Hyperion Bay"

"Hyperion Bay" is Inventing the Abbotts: The TV Series: a bunch of beautiful people fretting non-stop about their unsettled personal lives. And like "Inventing the Abbotts," Hyperion Bay is entertaining enough for about 20 minutes. Then Jennifer Connelly stops shedding her top in the garage and the milk quickly sours.

Of course this is TV, so you have to spot the parallels -- in this case, it's a montage where a sweaty Cassidy Rae (Models, Inc.) kneads cookie dough while dressed in the world's flimsiest dishrag.

Still, Hyperion Bay isn't awful. The writing doesn't make people like me sit up and grab our number two pencils so we can jot down future punch lines. The premise and storylines are harmless: high school geek returns home as big shot computer magnate in progress to find that the cheerleaders who once spurned him now swoon. The actors are all suitably skilled, even Mark-Paul Gosselar. Or as you may know him, Zack from Saved by the Bell. Gosselar tries mightily to shake the albatross that strangled the greats before him like Ricky--... er, Rick Schroeder, Gary Coleman, and Scott Baio. He almost succeeds too. He's dyed his hair brown, he doesn't carry that gigantic, lead-shielded Radio Shack cell phone, and there isn't a Screech in sight. Yes, when his show dies, Gosselar can take comfort in the fact that as long as Elizabeth Berkley is alive, he'll never be the Mouseketeer who embarrassed them all.

But make no mistake, his show will die, and soon. It doesn't have Buffy's wit. Whatever stranglehold Katie Holmes has on America's collective consciousness, it doesn't have that either. It's not campy enough to catch on among the Melrose Place and Savannah crowd. It lacks the raw, yet undeniable sexual charisma of 7th Heaven's Stephen Collins. And at least from first impressions, it doesn't have the sheer never-say-die-no-matter-how-much-we-ridicule-Tori-Spelling's-jaw staying power that marks, say, Beverly Hills 90210. (For that matter, it's also extremely unlikely that anyone will ever start a "We Hate Sydney Penny" newsletter.) In other words, it has none of the traits that create buzz on a small network.

And, in a way, that's a shame because I like cookies.


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