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Cleopatra 2525 (2001)
Created by Robert Tapert and R.J. Stewart
review by Ian Shutter
Remember that classic science fictional song, 'In The Year 2525', by Zager & Evans? It was a number one hit back in 1969, so when the millennium arrived it was probably inevitable there would be something to revive its SF theme - but I doubt the songwriters could ever have envisioned this witty skiffy adventure series! Imagine a variation on Buck Rogers with Amazonian warriors fighting shape-changing androids (not unlike the T-1000 of Terminator 2) in a colourful dystopia, add mission plotlines with goofy non-stop action for three heroines all dressed up in glam rock fetish fashions. Imagine this scenario packaged as 22-minute telefantasy episodes for a predominantly young audience...
Cleopatra 2525 stars cute Jennifer Sky as 20th century stripper Cleopatra, awakened from cryogenic storage over 500 years in the future. She meets Hel and Sarge (Gina Torres and Victoria Pratt), a couple of super-soldiers in humanity's ongoing war against giant bug-like machines of extraterrestrial origin, and these women save Cleo from death in the organ harvesting lab where she's thawed. Cleo impresses the dynamic duo with her gibberish of pop culture aphorisms, movie and TV catchphrases, and other contemporary references. With a frivolous, clichéd quip for every desperate situation, the new girl from yesteryear helps form the Cleo trio. They live deep underground, following military orders - from mysterious Voice (Elizabeth Hawthorne) - like a sci-fi Charlie's Angels, aiming to take back the planet's surface from machine enemies - the flying gunships called Baileys, and humanoid betrayer robots made of "polymorphic alloy."
In addition to the women's cybernetic implants, other science fictional concepts are beam weapons, personal force fields, and popup holo-displays from forearm gauntlet units, jet-boots and web-launchers (in the Spider-man tradition) for freefall through bottomless vertical shafts between the endless levels of a vast subterranean complex. All these hi-tech gizmos add to the pulp-SF adventure styling, but there are a few problems. In spite of generally good visual effects work, some of the flying sequences remain stubbornly unconvincing, while the show's costume designers throw out any number of supposedly 'futuristic' outfits that would have looked ridiculous at any time since the first Star Trek.
Still, I guess chauvinist pigs should be grateful for the blatant sex appeal of the Cleo trio, because these ladies usually triumph in battle against male opponents, and the only 'man' in their lives is a muscular but 'neutered' android who's only kept around to fix stuff and build more cool gadgets. Apparently, there's no need for male heroes in this post-feminist world, but in consolation, guys, the future according to TV sci-fi is rarely this much fun!
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