March 18, 2002 12:00 PM

Showtime (Fridays, 10:45 p.m. ET)

Do you suppose producers like “post-apocalyptic” science-fiction scenarios because it’s cheaper to depict a grungy future than a high-gloss, high-tech one?

This suspicion arose as I stared at a couple of episodes of this uninspired new 19-week series, in which stubbly Jeremiah (Luke Perry, most recently another Jeremiah—Reverend Cloutier—on Oz) and neatly bearded Kurdy (onetime Cosby Show kid Malcolm-Jamal Warner) wander the gray landscape of 2021—15 years after an epidemic has wiped out 6 billion people but spared those under the age of puberty. Figure no one in this world is over 30, so how come they’re not all home watching MTV? Because there’s no TV, no radio, no phone service—nothing to occupy the populace except primitive trade, sadistic violence and occasional drunken dancing.

The two main characters could have gotten by as freelance adventurers, but in the early-March pilot they took on a mission as intelligence gatherers for a socially responsible organization holed up at a sealed-off military base. Jeremiah, a taciturn type with idealistic tendencies, invokes his father’s memory with tiresome regularity and feels guilty about the death of his younger brother. Kurdy is more loquacious, self-interested and personable. In the March 29 episode he gives Jeremiah a helpful reminder of how their relationship works: “You’re always gettin’ involved in other people’s problems and draggin’ me in with you.”

Though Kurdy makes an attempt at humor once in a while, Jeremiah is mostly slow, dreary and ugly. To pick up a phrase from one of the villains, the show seems to be suffering from “postmodern entropy.” I have seen the future. It doesn’t work. Let’s move on.

Bottom Line: Plagued by boredom

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