USA Heats Up with Two New Series

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USA Network is introducing two new primetime series, The
Net
and Sins of theCity, that look to be better than the typical USA
drama.

In their premieres, at least, they don't lean toward
the sleazy, despite USA's intent to promote them as "Saturday Night Heat."

The Net, starring Melrose Place alum Brooke
Langton as computer whiz Angela Bennett, is based on the movie hit. That's a plus in
the sense that viewers will already understand the series' basic premise -- that an
evil organization, dubbed "the Praetorian Guard," has used computers to replace
her identity with that of a criminal. The reason: She was mistakenly sent a highly secret
e-mail by someone nicknamed "The Sorcerer." That character is heard, but never
seen, his voice delivered by Tim Curry in such a way that we're unsure whose side
he's on.

But it's also a minus, since the suspense is lessened
considerably, and since Langton lacks the appeal of film star Sandra Bullock.

Two of the series' executive producers, Irwin Winkler
and Rob Cowan, also teamed up on the film version, while two others, Patrick Hasburgh and
Deborah Pratt, have extensive network-TV-series credits.

The Net's story line is a blend of the
conspiratorial TheX-Files and The Fugitive, with Angela forced to go
on the run by the villainous Trelawney, well-played by Joseph Bottoms.

After Angela tracks down a mathematician mentioned in the
e-mail, they go to a place called Copper Canyon, where the Praetorians' plot began in
the 1980s -- and where the story deteriorates.

Unlike The Net -- which substitutes Vancouver,
British Columbia, for Oregon -- Sins makes considerable use of its Miami locations
for atmosphere, although differently than Miami Vice did. Of the three key actors,
Marcus Graham has the most star power. He's effective in portraying Vince, a cop torn
by the guilt of having an affair with the wife of his boss, a lieutenant. This leads to
Vince's quitting the force to become a private eye.

Sins uses some coarse language more gratuitously than NYPD
Blue
does. Most of it is delivered by Barbara Williams, apparently as a shortcut way
to show her character, a prosecutor, as one tough cookie.

Both series will bow Sunday, July 19, before assuming their
Saturday berths July 25.

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