Reviewed by Beth Hannan Rimmels
Cleopatra 2525 is the sort of show that drives TV critics crazy but often attracts viewers. Designed as one of two replacements for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, its an action/SF series with a large dose of beautiful babes. In fact, a glib description like Xena meets The Terminator in the future wouldnt be entirely wrong. But despite the clichés, by the end of first episode, which debuts in syndication the week of January 17, with most stations airing it on January 22 or January 23, there is a strange chemistry between the three female stars that bodes well for this syndicated half-hour series.
The setup is that sometime in the future, Earth is invaded by the Bailies. Humanity moved underground and has been fighting a guerrilla war to survive. Life underground varies greatly and numerous cultures have developed in addition humans and animals both mutating into new creatures. Most people have given up hope of reclaiming the surface and instead have built elaborate environments underground.
Hel (Gina Torres) and Sarge (Victoria Pratt) are two warriors fighting the Bailies, guided by a "Voice" Hel hears through implants in her ear and jaw. But when Sarge is wounded by a Bailey Betrayer robot (this is where the Terminator influence appears, particularly when it takes a chrome shape a la Terminator 2), the pair ends up in a lab where the title character is being awoken from a cryogenic sleep. Cleopatra (Jennifer Sky) was a wannabe actress/exotic dancer from our time who was cryogenically frozen when her the anesthesia during her boob surgery went awry. She starts off rather flighty and squeamish but a gift for mimicry and a memory for great lines (she quotes both Dirty Harry and the Three Musketeers) quickly earns her a place with Hel and Sarge.
Is it great television? No. Is it fun in a silly sort of way? Yes. Like Hercules and Xena before it, Cleopatra 2525 is a mix of humor and action. At times its poignant and serious but mostly has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. When Sarge comments on Cleopatras obsession with looks she fires back that their midriff-baring clothes arent practical either.
Cleopatra 2525 needs to settle down slightly and find its rhythm, but the first season of Hercules was far bumpier than this. The special effects are better and more elaborate. The trio of leads are certainly easy on the eyes, which should earn it a male following quickly and theres Mauser (Patrick Kake) for the ladies: A human appearing and handsome robot who Sarge points out isnt programmed for sex, "Yet."
Cleopatra 2525 is unlikely to attract a critical buzz like The Sopranos, but after a long week, its a reasonably entertaining way to blow off some steam and relax. Whats wrong with that?
Review © 2000 Beth Hannan Rimmels. Cleopatra 2525 and all accompanying photographs © 1999 Studios USA Television.