Has there been a worse title for a new television show this year than “Hooten & the Lady”? Is it a “Harry Potter” sequel starring Hedwig the owl’s heroic offspring? Has the ’80s coughed up a “Pink Lady and Jeff” spinoff?
As it turns out, Hooten is a cynical American adventurer, and the Lady is an idealistic British aristocrat who works for the British Museum. In “Hooten & the Lady,” which begins Thursday on CW, they trot the globe trading insults and tracking down precious artifacts.
The idea seems to be Indiana Jones with fewer Nazis and more romantic-comedy bickering, though the pilot (the only episode available for review) is set in South America and recalls “Romancing the Stone,” right down to the long slide through the underbrush that ends in a sexually suggestive pileup.
The ambitious and determined Lady Alexandra (Ophelia Lovibond) has come to the Amazon in search of the last camp of the real-life explorer Percy Fawcett (subject of the recent film “The Lost City of Z”). She meets cute with Hooten (Michael Landes) when they’re both hanging upside down in the camp of a jungle tribe, watching Hooten’s horse being grilled for dinner. Future destinations include Rome, Bhutan and Ethiopia, largely filmed in South African locations.
About that tribe: It’s a face-painted, loincloth-wearing bunch that appears to have survived from the Early Tarzan Era, comically menacing but prone to being outwitted by the white folks. Maybe this seemed less like an offensive caricature in Britain, where “Hooten & the Lady” was made and first shown last fall. Maybe the title played better there, too.
The real problem, in the pilot, at least, is how dutifully the show executes its Saturday-matinee exploits (despite some impressive stunt work). Ms. Lovibond (“Elementary”) and Mr. Landes have an amiable rapport that could keep you coming back, but they’re not going to make anyone forget Harrison Ford and Karen Allen. “Hooten & the Lady” tries for madcap adventure but settles for mild charm.
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