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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Usa Network Offers Babes, Hunks

Tim Goodman Knight-Ridder

Around here, we stand up and applaud when a network says, “This is super goofy and more than a little cheesy, but what the hell, let’s go for it!”

So, here’s a hearty slap on the back to the USA Network.

Forget plot twists and beautifully rendered dialog. These folks have thrown in the summer towel and said, “Our people are babes. Watch us.”

And you know what - they’re right.

Here’s a quote from their recent push: “USA Network is raising the temperature on Sunday nights this summer with a new four-hour, all-original programming block featuring some of the best-looking crusaders in television.”

Now, you could scoff. “Best-looking crusaders.” It’s certainly ripe for ripping.

But before taking in the view from the moral high ground, remember this: If you didn’t see Jimmy Smits butt every two weeks on “NYPD Blue,” that show would be battling “Family Matters” for the 50th ranking on the Nielsens.

So let’s not get uppity here. This is the time of year when we’re all allowed to lower our collective bars.

USA sent out pictures of its male and female stars. Jim Davidson of “Pacific Blue” wears that good-looking guy smirk and six-pack stomach. Chris Potter of “Silk Stalkings” looks brooding and stylish. Roy DuPuis of “La Femme Nikita” and Tony Crane of “The Big Easy” make women swoon and men invest in hair-care products.

It’s a nice package. Kind of like summer reading except in 3-D.

As for the women, well, you’d better tighten up the screws in your knees or you’re going down hard. Darlene Vogel and Paula Trickey of “Pacific Blue” look more like Playmates than actresses (and on “Pacific Blue” that’s pretty much the point).

Janet Gunn of “Silk Stalkings” has quite an arsenal. Peta Wilson of “La Femme Nikita” is visually striking (and, to her credit, resides on the network’s best show).

Leslie Bibb of “The Big Easy” turns the big N.O. into yes, positively yes.

Hey, you can watch “Seinfeld” in the fall. And if watching four hours of heavenly bodies in rest and motion causes you to be a little intellectually guilty, you can always start the night off by watching “60 Minutes” or something on PBS. Thus cleansed, you can dive right in.

On Sunday, USA Network is launching this babe invasion at 8 p.m. with “Pacific Blue,” followed by “Silk Stalkings” at 9 p.m., “La Femme Nikita” at 10 p.m. and “The Big Easy” at 11 p.m.

Not your traditional Sunday fare, really. There’s an inordinate amount of cleavage and tanned biceps flashing around. You can even turn the sound off.

This is the kind of programming block that makes Fox look mature. And yet it’s such a welcome addition to summertime TV.

For those just tuning in, “La Femme Nikita” is a spinoff of the popular movie (the French one more than the weaker American version). “La Femme Nikita” is a not-to-be-missed series.

While the other programs are eye candy, Wilson and DuPuis bring a sizzling chemistry to a show about an ultrasecret government security squad.

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