Check out some of the most innovative programming on
And skip one clinker.
By Donald Liebenson
Time: Saturday, 10 a.m. ET
Worth a Look
Recommended Age: 6-11
Channel: Fox Kids
Time: Saturday, 9:30 a.m. ET
Rangers Time Force
TV-Y7 FV (Fantasy Violence)
Recommended Age: 4-7
Channel: Fox Kids
Time: Saturday, 8 am, ET
Don't waste time
February is sweeps
month, when the networks set their advertising rates and hope
to lure audiences with stunt programming: Susan Sarandon on "Friends,"
rock musicians on "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, a funny
joke on "Becker." Meanwhile, three new Saturday morning
series premiered on Feb. 3. Two of them vividly illustrate that
some of the most original, clever and, yes, twisted minds are
at work creating children's programming.
(ABC) is the newest addition to the Disney's One Saturday Morning
line-up. Created by "Paul & Joe," whose credits
include "Disney's Recess" and "Rugrats." Whereas
"Rugrats" offered a baby's-eye of the world, "Lloyd"
literally presents an alien perspective on adolescence.
"Lloyd" is set aboard a space station, where Lloyd's
mother is commander (rather than Klingons, she has to deal with
more serious catastrophes like a crew member who gets his tongue
caught in his zipper). In the inaugural episode, her son, Lloyd
has just turned 13 and believes himself too old for things like
Capt. Cubby cereal or doing book reports. "I want to be treated
like a man," he tells his teacher, a robot. "I've got
batteries older than you," she responds, and assigns him
to write an essay on
what it means to be a man.
Unlike "Mork & Mindy" or "Third Rock From the
Sun," the show's comedy does not derive from Lloyd being
unfamiliar with human behavior. Save his green, antenna-ed appearance,
Lloyd is just like any Earth-bound kid with the same sitcom hassles
as a stern teacher or a bratty sister (except that Lloyd's has
telekinetic powers), not to mention the same proclivity for bathroom
"The only thing you rule," a dreaming Lloyd tells Darth
Vader, "is the toilet." In future episodes, Lloyd will
literally double date with a girl who has two heads. He will also
experience puberty, resulting in his antenna projecting his inner
fantasies. And who can't relate to that?
Live action, but more cartoonish is "Los
(Fox Kids), a guilty pleasure in the making. Taking its cue from
Mexican cult movie hero Santos, the masked wrestler, "Los
Luchadores" stars Maximo Marrone as straight-arrow Lobo Fuerto,
a champion wrestler and masked avenger, fighting crime with his
tag-team partner Turbine and the spunky, gives-as-good-as-she-gets,
"Los Luchadores" boasts a couple of firsts for American
television. Lobo is the first Mexican crime-fighting superhero.
His nemesis, the Whelp, is also a new breed of evil genius: He's
a Chihuahua. Don't ask. Which leaves "Power
Rangers Time Force"
(Fox Kids) the latest incarnation of the once mighty franchise
that now no self-respecting first-grader will admit in public
In the first episode, the Red Ranger actually dies (one down.),
leading to a tearful death scene right out of "Titanic"
as the vanquished hero perishes in his colleague's (and fiance's)
arms. "Take my morpher," he gasps.
So now it's personal as the Rangers defy orders to pursue the
evil Ransick back to the year 2001. Adventures ensue. This is
the Rangers' ninth season, and the fundamental things apply as
times goes by: cheesy special effects and bad acting. "Time
Force" adds some "Matrix"-style special effects
to liven up the signature fight scenes. But for the Rangers, it
seems that their time has run out.
Liebenson lives in Highland Park, Illinois and covers entertainment
for national magazines.
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