UPN (Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET)
No TV season is complete without one new series set in Hawaii Marker satisfies this year’s aloha quota, and it also serves a more valuable purpose—returning Richard Grieco (21 Jump Street) and his ferocious sideburns to prime time. Grieco plays Richard DeMorra, a blue-collar New Jersey guy who travels to Hawaii to settle his father’s estate. He inherits assets (including a surfside grotto) but also debts. His father, it seems, had issued markers to legions of Hawaiians that they could redeem down the road for help of any kind.
So Richie becomes a modern knight errant—you know, the kind who chases people in his four-wheel-drive vehicle. Everyone describes him as a man of principle. When one supplicant remarks on how rare that is nowadays, Grieco says, “Come to Jersey. The place is lousy with them.” (I’m guessing he’s from the Parsippany area.) The narrative keeps getting gummed up with flashback scenes of Grieco’s childhood, shot in a grainy, Courtship of Eddie’s Father style.
This is the kind of escapist adventure series whose quality will fluctuate from week to week depending on the sturdiness of the scripts. So far they’ve been softer than poi. But the show does have Grieco, the Steve McQueen of the small screen. And hey, that tropical splendor don’t hurt either.
Gates McFadden (Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Dr. Beverly Crusher) plays Grieco’s testy stepmother. Andy Bumatai plays a Polynesian surfer bum known as Pipeline who becomes his comical sidekick.