February 01, 1988 12:00 PM

CBS (Saturdays, 8 p.m. ET)


I haven’t seen acting this animated since Dragnet. I haven’t seen plots this deep since Adam 12. And I haven’t seen TV this daring since Donny and Marie left the air. In other words I haven’t seen such safe, stale, stupid, old-fashioned television in years. What we have here is Robert (that battery commercial) Conrad’s new series and one-man nepotism festival. Conrad’s daughter Joan is the show’s executive producer and his sons, Christian and Shane, are his co-stars. What a close family. They even have a family grunt. In the premiere, already aired, the three Conrad men are separated in the wilderness. Then their patriarch lets out a loud, strange, preliterate noise: “UUUNGG!” “What’s that?” asks a shocked actor on the other side of the mountain. “That’s my dad,” says a proud Conrad. Dad Conrad also speaks, giving his boys advice worth embroidering: “You know, you never know what you’re gonna do in a tough situation, Son, until you’re in a tough situation.” Oh, yeah, I suppose I should tell you what the show is about: Conrad, Conrad, Conrad and a bunch of other actors play mountain men who rescue clumsy people who do dumb things in the forest, which is a dandy excuse for puffing out pecs and delivering lines like, “Let’s move!” and “Let’s do it!” and “We’re goin’ in!” High Mountain Rangers came to TV last April as a movie, and it did resonably well in the ratings. That is why CBS brought it back as a series. The ratings are also Conrad’s answer to his show’s many critics. After the series premiered, he sent out a telegram: “You might refer to last Saturday night’s national Nielsens. I guess I was right to rely on the taste of the American public.” So let’s refer to the ratings for that particular night. Rangers did beat figure skating on ABC. But it lost to The Facts of Life on NBC. Which meant that America preferred seeing fat grow on Facts to watching macho mannequins on Rangers. Yes, bless the taste of the American public.

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