If you crossed 'Gilligan's Island' with 'On The Beach' and aired it on Fox, you'd get 'Woops!'

September 25, 1992|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

On paper, "Woops!" looks like the dumbest idea of the new season.

But on screen, the new Fox series plays kind of smart and funny.

OK, maybe not really smart. Maybe it's just that its premise has so little promise you're surprised to see it work at all. But the pilot, which airs at 11:30 Sunday night on WBFF (Channel 45), does have some good moments.

The premise is a nuclear war has occurred by accident and left only six survivors. The six meet in a farmhouse and set out to start a new society. Did I say it's a sitcom?

About four minutes into it, you'll figure out how the producers sold it to Fox as a sitcom: It's a "Gilligan's Island" for the Nuclear Age -- or post-Nuclear Age.

There's a feminist (Meagan Fay), a teacher (Evan Handler), a doctor (Cleavant Derricks), a stockbroker (Lane Davies), a carpenter who had lost his job and become homeless (Fred Applegate), and a manicurist (Marita Geraghty).

The teacher, Mark Braddock -- who survived because he was in a Volvo when the explosion happened (that's a joke based on how safe Volvos are supposed to be, in case you didn't get it) -- is elected the group's leader and keeps a journal, which he shares with viewers. The smart part is that Braddock champions diversity and convinces the group that their strength is in their differences.

The show is tacky in a way that only Fox can be tacky. For example, the group only comes together after they are attacked by a giant spider. The spider is right out of a bad Japanese science-fiction film of the 1950s.

And there is the kind of humor only Fox can get away with. As they are trying to figure out how to plant seeds for wheat, the feminist announces, "Well, we had a book on feminist gardening at my feminist bookstore?"

"What's feminist gardening?" Braddock asks.

'I'm guessing no zucchinis," the sexist stockbroker says.

That's not smart. But it works for "Married . . . With Children." Besides in this show nobody's called "Skipper."

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