The task of polluting prime-time network television sounds like an impossible one, or at least the height of gratuitousness--like throwing candy wrappers into the Love Canal. But at ABC, they love such challenges, and they managed this one by injecting the worst of daytime television into evening hours. The trend, such as it is, continues tonight with the premiere of ABC's summer soap opera "The Hamptons," at 9 on Channel 7.
"Hamptons" is totally, irredeemably, amateurishly and idiotically worthless. And yet, in spite of all that, it's still not fun to watch, nor even playfully salacious, as soaps are supposed to be. "The Hamptons" is a prude in floozy's clothing.
Still another stick-figure melodrama designed to reassure middle-class viewers about how badly off the well-off are, "Hamptons" is arbitrarily set in the fashionable Long Island resort which, according to this show, has been invaded by southern California types more lethal than Bruce the White Shark. There are lots of white sharks in producer Gloria Monty's motley menagerie, none of them original, nor any overdrawn enough to register as enjoyable caricature.
Characters have names like "Nick Atwater" and "Brian Chadway." They make with the usual tedious "Dallas"-type stock talk about corporate takeovers. Adrienne Mortimer (Bibi Besch) is the resident bitch ("How are you, Adrienne?" "Fabulous. Don't I look it?"), her second husband, Jay Mortimer, the resident son-of-a ("I told you before, I loathe making love to a drunk," he rebuffs his wife--just before philandering with his stepdaughter).
And the dialogue runs along the lines of, and through the lines of, "He's very special," "I won't take 'no' for an answer," and, from a concerned son to a doctor presiding over a stricken father, "You can level with me." The patient is retail patriarch Joe Chadway, played by William Cain without a single line of dialogue. He keels over on the beach in an early scene and spends the rest of the episode comatose in a hospital bed. With all the other actors making complete fools of themselves in preposterous, hackneyed parts, one begins to envy him.
"The Hamptons" doesn't deserve the time of day, much less the time of night.