This week: Milo (Jacobi Wynne) is tempted by sponsorship money; Cara (Laurie Fortier) risks suspension when she tests positive for marijuana. Postponed from an earlier date

Network: ABC

Timeslot: Thursday, 8:00 p.m.

Competition: Promised Land (CBS), Friends (NBC), Suddenly Susan (NBC), World's Wildest Police Videos (FOX), Eyewitness (PBS), Wild World (PBS)

Cast: Adam Trese, Laurie Fortier, Jacobi Wynne, Scott Gurney, Jamie Pressly, Redd Frerchs, Eddie Mills, Maureen Flannigan, Jason Behr

Parental Rating: TV-PG

Concept: The ratings for the Olympics would have gone through the roof if the athletes given the "up-close-and-personal" treatment were more like the characters on Push than real jocks. Set on the fictional Cal Southern University campus, this is a college drama about a group of Summer Olympic hopefuls from the team behind Party of Five. Though each of these hardbodies has the potential to harvest gold, their complicated and conflicted personal lives are more compelling than the play by play. At least that's why the producers think you'll watch.

Critique: This is basically a strain-n-sweat soap opera. First, we have Eric (Redd Frerichs) and Erin Galway (Maureen Flannigan), who return from break in a chauffeured limo. He's a gymnast, she's a swimmer; their dad (James Read) is a rich and humorless creep who thinks winning is everything. Erin is probably the better athlete, but dad's most destructive attentions are focused on his son, who can't handle the pressure. Then there's sprinter Dempsey Easton (Jason Behr) who uses drugs to enhance his performance against a talented newcomer, Milo Reynolds (Jacobi Wynne). Swimmer Scott Tyson (Eddie Mills) won bronze in Atlanta, but now fears he has AIDS. Nikki Lang (Jamie Pressly), a talented but lazy gymnast who looks like a model, has an eye for her rookie coach Victor Yates (Adam Trese) who also looks like a model. But Victor's assistant coach, Cara Bradford, (Laurie Fortier)- who he once dated and who also looks like a model- wants him back and will do anything to seduce him. Not to worry; Nikki sleeps with her creative writing professor instead. The actresses are too tall and too old to play college gymnasts; and when the camera cheats with long, shadowy shots of stunt doubles competing or working out, it is a reminder of how contrived this whole thing is. On the upside, Flannigan works well as a sensitive type who makes training an obsession in order to escape family pains. But Fortier is too much the brazen temptress, breezing along with such naked duplicity that you'd think Heather Locklear was coaching her off camera. All the others look like they're fighting for screen time, trying too hard to stand out in the crowded field. Drugs, sex, and betrayal are a part of intercollegiate sports; the world is full of screwed up fathers who pressure their kids; and AIDS is everywhere. But addressing all these issues in one hour is too much. If the producers get any more carried away, we may well see a college football player who kills his ex-wife and her friend. This is one of those over-the-top Gen-X shows that you'd expect to see on Fox, and it looks awkward on ABC's lineup alongside NYPD Blue, The Practice, and even Prey.

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The Couch, Alanis Morissette