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"Jason and the Argonauts"

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No sooner are we done with Drew Carey than we have to contemplate an absolutely shameless Dennis Hopper, who has allowed himself to be body-snatched and cross-dressed for the malign designs of Jason and the Argonauts (Sunday and Monday, May 7 and 8; 9 to 11 p.m.; NBC). Never before has Greek antiquity looked quite so much like a coffee shop -- with Hopper as the evil uncle Pelias indulging every excess of the sort of hokum that brought us The Last Days of Pompeii; Jason London as hunky Jason, as blank as a pip on a domino; Brian Thompson as loutish Hercules, probably wondering whatever happened to the good old days when there were parts like "Jaws" in James Bond movies; Frank Langella as a put-upon and much-betrayed King Aertes, who really must speak to his agent; Natasha Henstridge as a cupcake Queen of Lemnos, whose idea of foreplay is a romp in the sauna before the human sacrifice; Jolene Blalock as an open-sorceress Medea, whose petulant ambivalence would be more appropriate in choosing a wrap for her junior prom; and Olga Sosnovska as a sourpuss Atalanta, forever on the verge of teaching oblivious Jason the arrow of his ways.

Not to neglect the rest of the Argonauts -- drunks, thieves, and Orpheus (Adrian Lester) -- doing their level second-best to add up to a Dirty Dozen. Though I'm doing my best to forget Olivia Williams as Hera and Angus MacFadyen as Zeus, who small-talk to us from their Olympian cloud cover like Carousel in summer stock. I liked Poseidon, the Minotaur, and the sowing of dragon's-teeth seeds, but they are special effects. For whom, exactly, is this extreme Western intended? You will remember that Jason eventually dumped Medea, after which she ate their children. The Golden Fleece here would appear to be a Nielsen rating during sweeps. Jason and the Argonauts is enough to turn us into a multi-Medea conglomerate.


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