In the year 2525, we will live underground dodging toxic waste sites and fearing killer robots who rule the earth above. But on the plus side, spandex will be plentiful, midriffs will be bare and breast surgery just a distant memory.
At least that's the vision presented by the producers of "Cleopatra 2525," a new futuristic series that makes up half of the syndicated "Back 2 Back Action" hour debuting tomorrow afternoon at 5 on Channel 50 (with a re-air next Saturday at 2).
The second half of the hour is a history teacher's nightmare called "Jack of All Trades," a swashbuckling adventure series that takes a few liberties with world history, in which Bruce Campbell plays an American spy at the turn of the 19th century.
"Back 2 Back Action" is co-produced by Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi, the same creative team behind "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess."
Cleopatra, portrayed by bleached-blond Jennifer Sky, is the stage name of a Los Angeles stripper who undergoes breast implant surgery in the year 2001 and is accidentally frozen cryogenically. (It happens.) Five centuries later, our busty heroine groggily awakens, glances downward and says "good job" to two women she wrongly assumes are her doctors.
Instead, it's Hel and Sarge (Gina Torres and Victoria Pratt), two spandex-wearing, midriff-baring warriors leading the battle against the Bailies. No, not the family from "It's a Wonderful Life," but armored airborne creatures (resembling really big snails) that rule the surface of the Earth.
The two ladies are not hip to the fact that breast augmentation was a 20th-century practice. "What's a boob job?" Sarge asks Cleopatra. "Why would someone get an operation like that?"
The special effects are second-rate, as befitting a syndicated TV series, and the half-hour is littered with dragged-out laser battles. Plus, keep a lookout for one villain who is a direct rip-off of the bad terminator in "Terminator 2." Still, this is an easy way to kill a half-hour on a Sunday afternoon.
Following "Cleopatra 2525," viewers are transported back about seven centuries to follow the adventures of American spy Jack Stiles, who has been assigned by President Thomas Jefferson to thwart Napoleon's efforts to overtake an island in the West Indies.
Campbell, whose overacting and cornball dialogue worked so effectively in the "Evil Dead" movies, plays Stiles as an oversexed Zorro, quick with a suggestive one-liner. Indeed, "Jack of All Trades" is Jack of Bad Jokes:
French imperialist: "This mansion has a hundred bathrooms."
Stiles: "You must get a lot of reading done."
That sets the bar for the jokes, bathroom and sexual, that infiltrate the series opener. In two instances Stiles uses women's undergarments to get out of deadly situations. One wonders whether this will become the series trademark.
The series is also marred by silly wordplay, including French accents from Napoleon's forces that would make Inspector Clouseau blush, and, as in "Cleopatra," there are plenty of overlong action sequences. All they had to do is substitute the laser shootouts with sword fights.
It seems doubtful that a show whose villain is Napoleon and whose setting is a remote island of the West Indies will be able to hold the interest of action adventure fans.
CAPTION: Gina Torres, Jennifer Sky and Victoria Pratt are spandex-wearing, midriff-baring warriors in "Cleopatra 2525."