Meet the new TNN, same as the old TNN

Saturday, August 16, 2003

It's official: TNN is now Spike TV. The male-oriented network kicks off its programming with "Ride with Funkmaster Flex" (6:30 p.m. today, Spike), a hip-hop flavored celebration of big, fancy and vintage American cars and trucks.

In the pilot episode, Mr. Flex shares car talk with Motor City rapper Eminem in a large, luxuriously appointed SUV named the Shady Mobile. The star of "8 Mile" does not seem terribly familiar with his car's gadgets and gizmos.

Flex concludes his street tour by teaching scantily clad rapper Lil' Kim to do burnouts in Flex's vintage Chevrolet. Along the way, Ms. Kim compares herself to Daisy, a character from "The Dukes of Hazzard," the sitcom most closely associated with the old Nashville Network, the granddaddy of Spike TV. The soundtrack may have changed from twang to funk, but the basic DNA remains the same: fast cars, monster trucks, girls in skimpy outfits and the men (and beer advertisers) who love them.

Meanwhile, a trio of bad guys (including Coolio in what may be the most over-the-top acting job of all time) plies the same river looking for sunken loot. Filled with absurd inconsistencies, "Red Water" is both baffling and laughable. If he does any more movies like this, Coolio should feed his agent to the mechanical shark.

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