Ken Tucker
June 04, 1993 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Route 66

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
Dan Cortese, James Wilder

We gave it a C+

In the ’60s, Route 66 was a cool on-the-road drama series about two handsome guys (blond, smiling Martin Milner and dark, brooding George Maharis) who cruised America in a sleek Corvette, helping people and meeting pretty girls and leaving them in the dust. This revival stars James Wilder (Equal Justice) and Dan Cortese (MTV Sports and numerous annoying Burger King commercials); Wilder’s character, Nick, is supposed to be the son of Maharis’ character from the old show.

In the debut episode, Nick inherits his dead dad’s car, whose gleaming red 1961 perfection now makes it seem like a revved-up totem of lost innocence. He hops in it and tools off, picking up a garrulous hitchhiker named Arthur (Cortese). Pretty soon, history is repeating itself: They meet a young woman in distress (Stacy Haiduk); they help her out (some bad guys are after her); and they roar off into the sunset, as tough-guy music from Warren Zevon howls in the background.

The hour is amusing, hard-boiled escapism. Wilder is fine; Cortese is not — he smirks all the time and never shuts up, and what he says isn’t as wise-guy clever as he probably thinks it is. I’d lay more blame for Cortese’s lameness on the show’s writers if half his lines didn’t sound like the smart-aleck banalities Cortese spouts in those Burger King spots. With him along for the ride, this Corvette needs a new muffler. C+

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