September 30, 2002 12:00 PM

FOX (Fridays, 9 p.m. ET)

A man awakens naked and glistening on a deserted island. He falls through a hole into the sea, swims who knows how far and gets picked up by some Cambodian fishermen. “You speak Khmer?” he is asked. To his surprise and theirs, the answer is yes.

The Sept. 20 premiere jumps off to an intriguing start, and John Doe only grows better when the protagonist opens his eyes in Seattle and finds he’s blessed with awesomely encyclopedic knowledge—but not a clue as to his own identity. A dazzling scene has him holding forth in the public library, answering almost every question the patrons can toss at him.

Where does Doe go from there? Regrettably, to the Seattle Police Department. After feeling a strange connection to a missing girl mentioned on TV, he helps the cops investigate her abduction. Bad career move. Instead of using his brain power at the highest levels of science or government, he’ll apparently be playing sleuth on the local level week after week. He also lands a gig as a pianist in a bar after an impromptu rendition of “My Funny Valentine.” “You sure can bang those ivories,” says the owner (William Forsythe). But what a waste of potential.

Bottom Line: Clever concept but lacks ambition

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