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UPN brings Jake 2.0, sci-fi hero, to viewers

HOLLYWOOD — HOLLYWOOD - Jake Foley is about to learn a lesson the hard way, the one about being careful of what you wish for.

A computer technician at the National Security Agency, Jake would love to become a secret agent, swapping his geeky little job for a life of glamour and intrigue. When a shootout erupts at a classified government lab, he gets caught in the crossfire and is accidentally injected with nanites - microscopic machines that can do amazing things, at least in science fiction. Such is the premise for UPN's Jake 2.0, which premieres tonight at 9 Eastern.

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Jake emerges with such intense strength and sensory powers that the NSA creates a covert operations team for him to run. The downside is that now everyone, it seems, wants to kill or capture him to recover the experimental nanotechnology inside.

This too is a sci-fi/fantasy convention, dating back at least as far as Fantastic Voyage (remember Raquel Welch and others traveling through a human bloodstream?), Matthew Broderick's Project X and now the X-Men, Spider-Man and The Hulk movies, in which mutants are alternately hunted and recruited. Television earlier offered the police drama/fantasy Manimal, in which the hero could turn into any animal he chooses. The latest to be inspired by this improbable premise, Jake 2.0 is a promising lightweight action romp from creator Silvio Horta.

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Christopher Gorham (Felicity) brings an amiable awkwardness to the title role in the manner of a young Ed. He becomes not just a transformed Jake Foley but a modern, more-human incarnation of The Six Million Dollar Man - Col. Steve Austin without the hairspray and robotic personality.

Jake also reconnects with his unrequited college crush, Sarah Heywood (Marina Black, Six Feet Under), which figures to be another good news-bad news deal as the courtship evolves. Sarah, now working in Washington as a senatorial aide, has a personal interest in the NSA's hush-hush business, which puts her and Jake in harm's way.

In tonight's show, Jake must try to rescue Sarah from Irish Republican Army kidnappers who are really after him - they're interested in possessing this prototypical future warrior. Along with his wits, he calls on his magnified vision, heightened hearing and the ability to communicate telepathically with computers.

The cast also includes Philip Anthony-Rodriguez (Enterprise) and Judith Scott (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) as senior agents, Keegan Connor Tracy (Final Destination 2) as a research doctor and Matt Czuchry (Young Americans) as the comic relief, Jake's slacker roommate on the make.

Jake 2.0 can go too far in asking us to suspend disbelief. The computer telepathy makes it a tad too easy to open any door, and the keen hearing apparently comes with an uncanny filtering ability.

OK, so this isn't exactly a Nova nanotech special, but it could be fun if it doesn't get too silly. As one of Jake's new bosses tells him, "This is your chance. Don't waste it."


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