A week of unusually auspicious and eventful television could hardly end on a grubbler note than with "The Hustler of Muscle Beach," an ABC movie that is every bit as dopey as its title would suggest. The two-hour film airs tonight at 9 on Channel 7, and pity those who have nothing better to do than watch it.
Richard Hatch, a battle-scarred bailout from "Battlestar Galactica," plays a supposedly lovable loser who tries to use a simple-minded body builder as part of a plot to ill-get some gains at hulky Muscle Beach in Venice, Calif.
Stories of enigmatic louses may have a certain appeal to them, but Pal Joey this guy isn't and Damon Urnyon this yarn ain't. Kay Lenz as the romantic interest, a girl who falls for the heel, is in way under her head. This movie is no place for someone talented and attractive.
As the Li'l Abner body-builder type, a muscle-bound newcomer named Tim Kimber is likable enough, and he certainly has a trusting face, but the director, Jonathan Kaplan, went about his business with what comes across as churlishness at best and hatred for all humanity at worst. The world of body building was more profitably explored in Bob Rafelson's "Stay Hungry" or in the semi-documentary feature "Pumping Iron."
David Smilow's scrip has people repeatedly laying things on one another; "Why are you laying this on me?" and "Your family lay it on you?" for example. "Hustler," however, is too dull and inept an egg even to be laid on television.