Snap, crackle and pop Review: It's like Tony Rome coming home to L.A. But this is no Sinatra. As they used to say in those sleek cop movies, Dennis Farina is 'Buddy Faro.'

September 25, 1998|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

Sunset Strip private eye Buddy Faro (Dennis Farina) was the toast of the town back in the Rat Pack era of Dino, Sammy and Frank. But then he dropped out of sight in the late 1970s -- when everything went a-ring-a-ding-wrong -- and hasn't been heard from since.

Until now, that is, when a nerdy guy with private-eye dreams (Frank Whaley) discovers Faro doing a Rip Van Winkle down Mexico way. Actually, it's a Rip Van Winkle on the vino, baby, and Faro's a pretty sorry-looking shadow of himself.

But, wouldn't you know, the kid brings Faro back among the living and, by the end of the hour, he's back on the strip in retro-chic style sipping from cool martini glasses and dancing the tango samba the mambo and did I see a little merengue in there? You go, Buddy boy.

"Felicity," which premieres on WB Tuesday, is the best pilot of the new fall season, but "Buddy Faro" is far and way the most stylish.

Executive producer Mark Frost ("Twin Peaks") said, "I really wanted to create something that was pure entertainment, something that could combine mystery and comedy -- one of those big old Hollywood productions."

And he has.

The big dance number in one of those marvelous, glittery Los Angeles nightclubs of yesteryear is something you won't see anywhere else on TV -- until everyone tries to imitate it on the cheap during next year's pilot season. The Frost trademark is to show us the dance floor in a long shot through a pyramid of champagne glasses. It is so deliciously over the top that you can't help smiling.

I'm not giving anything away by telling you that Faro offers the kid a chance to team up with him in the gumshoe business -- him, the kid and a dame they picked up along the way. Naturally, she's an actress wannabe with red hair and hot good looks. She's almost hot enough to be one of Faro's ladies -- like the one in the toothpaste tube of a slinky blue dress who made the TV sweat when she did the tango.

"Look, kid," he says, "I work strictly on a handshake, everything split right down the middle 60-40. I'm offering ya the chance of a lifetime -- a partnership with me. Ya got a lot of talent, kid, but ya just have to loosen up those bolts in your neck a little bit."

"And that's where you come in, huh?" the kid says.

"Don't miss the fun, kid. Spread your wings a little. Come fly with me. Check it out."

Can Frost and Farina and Co. maintain the gloss, sizzle and style for 22 weeks? Probably not. But, hey, let's loosen up the bolts in all our necks a little and fly with the man for a while. ***

New series

What: "Buddy Faro"

When: 9 to 10 tonight

-! Where: NBC (WBAL, Channel 11)

Quick takes

Quick-hit guide to another new series premiering tonight:

**** Must-see.

*** Has promise.

** Worth a look.

* Forget about it.

"Two of a Kind" * (ABC) -- Oh no, say it ain't so: The Olsen twins aren't back, are they? Oh, yes, they are, David, and they are more cutesy and precious than ever. I'd give anything for a

friendly alien, 8 o'clock show -- a Mork, a Balki or an ALF. Maybe, if I think of the twins as aliens. Yeah, that's the ticket. Na-noo, na-noo, Ashley. Mary-Kate, call home. Actually, as 8 o'clock Friday shows go, it's not that bad once you get into it. Never mind, I can't lie. The truth is I hate the Olsen twins. There, I said it. I'll be in a phone booth across from the White House with G. Gordon Liddy at midnight if you feel the need to assassinate me for my beliefs. (8 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m., WMAR, Channel 2)

Pub Date: 9/25/98

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