March 03, 2003 12:00 PM

WB (Wed., Feb. 26, 8 p.m. ET)

I can hear the brainstorming session in The WB’s executive suites: “The prequel thing worked with Smallville. Now let’s do a younger, sexier Lone Ranger. We’ll toss the ‘William Tell Overture’ and replace it with loud rock.” “Better yet, keep a little ‘William Tell’ but play it on electric guitar.”

This mockable two-hour movie, conceived as the pilot for a possible series, depicts the western hero as a 20-year-old, well before he and “faithful Indian companion” Tonto had their TV adventures of the ’50s. In this version Nathaniel Arcand plays Tonto as an assertive Apache who helps 19th-century law student Luke Hartman (Chad Michael Murray) gain revenge after baddies murder Luke’s brother. A tribal shaman (Wes Studi) suggests that Luke don a mask to spook the villains. But when Luke makes his dashing debut as the Lone Ranger, he seems to be garbed for Mardi Gras rather than a gunfight. The best action scene comes when Luke fantasizes a hot bath with Tonto’s luscious sister (Anita Brown).

BOTTOM LINE: Leave it alone

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