TNT delivers a lot with 'Bull'

Tuesday, August 15, 2000

"Bull" (9 p.m., TV-14, L, S), the first-ever original series on TNT, is interesting in several ways. It's also pretty good, but we'll get to that later. Set in the high-stakes, fast-paced, caffeine and testosterone-fueled world of Wall Street trading, "Bull" treats its young broker characters as sexy, identifiable heroes out to make their mark (and their fortune) before they get too old. Which in this crowd means 27.

This is a far cry from TV and Hollywood's usual take on Wall Street as a nest of greedy vipers, best personified as Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) in 1987 drama "Wall Street." Like the recent cult film "Boiler Room," "Bull" reflects a young generation that has taken a sky-high Dow as a birthright and who set out to scale this fiduciary Everest without moral baggage.

"Bull" is also part of an interesting, and promising, broadcasting trend where basic cable stations have become a nurturing harbor for quality programming.

"Bull" concerns a gang of young brokers who break away from an upper-crust financial firm to start their risky new venture. Their leader is Robert "Ditto" Roberts III (George Newbern), who has ethical and Oedipal issues with the firm, led by his patrician grandfather Robert "The Kaiser" Roberts (Donald Moffat). He enlists the firm's best rising stars (Malik Yoba, Ian Kahn, Christopher Wiehl, Alicia Coppola and Elisabeth Rohm) to give up their perks and fancy address to start from scratch in an office consisting of only a kitchen table and folding chairs.

The compelling first episode features at least three double-crosses, two SEC violations and one secret sexual liaison -- a pace of back-stabbing and intrigue that will be hard to maintain.

Tonight's highlights

Series notes

A process of elimination on "Big Brother" (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) " Shopping for a new car on "3rd Rock from the Sun" (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) " Red cracks the whip on "That '70s Show" (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14, D, L) " Regis Philbin hosts "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" (7 p.m., ABC) " A botched bank job on "Shasta" (7 p.m., UPN, TV-14) " A bad roommate on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
(7 p.m., WB, TV-PG, L, V).

Donna's sister (Ann Cusack) ruins Thanksgiving on "Ladies Man" (7:30 p.m., CBS, TV-PG, D, L).

Roz and Frasier cruise for love at a convention on "Frasier" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) " Sensitivity training on "Family Guy" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14, D, L) " A little too much information on "Dharma & Greg" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG, D) " Dropped from a great height on "I Dare You! The Ultimate Challenge"
(8 p.m., UPN, TV-14) " Angel helps a warrior princess (Bai Ling) liberate her homeland on "Angel"
(8 p.m., WB, TV-14, D, L, V).

Finch bristles at Adrienne's best friend on "Just Shoot Me" (8:30 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) " Thurgood wakes up worried on "The PJs" (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14, D, L, S, V) " Consoling the boss on "Norm" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-14, D, S).