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SUPERHEROES OF SUBURBIA.

Byline: David Kronke

After so thoroughly flaming out with the 1993 flop ``Meteor Man,'' it's a wonder actor/director Robert Townsend would return to the subject of superheroes. But his gamble pays off modest dividends with the Disney Channel comedy ``Up, Up and Away,'' a story about a suburban family that just happens to be made up of costumed crime fighters.

Townsend and Alex Datcher star as Jim and Judy Marshall, an average couple who, should someone, say, rob a nearby bank, shoehorn themselves into leather and spandex and become Bronze Eagle and Warrior Woman. The mother and father of three are such a married couple that they nonchalantly bicker while battling their foes.

Alas, their Kryptonite is aluminum foil, which makes one wonder how they could possibly stop crime in a school cafeteria or their own kitchen. Super powers run in the family - their oldest son has super-speedy powers, and their young daughter terrorizes the whole brood with her laser eyebeams.

But one son, Scott (Michael J. Pagan), is approaching his 14th birthday with nary a differently abled toenail. Since this is accepted to be the cut-off date to accrue super powers, all involved are understandably concerned: Mom and Pop wonder if Scott might be - gasp! - normal.

Complicating matters is the fact that a sinister team of computer whizzes are plotting to brainwash the community's kids into doing their evil bidding for them. If ever there was a time Scott could use some super powers, it's now. But what if none are forthcoming?

``Up, Up and Away'' offers a lot of cute throwaway gags for parents while offering kids an important lesson on accepting yourself even if you can't meet the expectations your parents set for you. Thankfully, even such a sophisticated lesson goes down easily amid such inspired silliness as a party for superheroes and Scott's nerdy friend who, upon beholding Warrior Woman's ultra-sleek, crime-busting motorcycle, laments, ``Aw, geez, my mom drives a hatchback.''

- David Kronke

THE FACTS

--The show: ``Up, Up and Away.''

--What: Comedy about a family of superheroes.

--The stars: Robert Townsend, Michael J. Pagan, Alex Datcher and Sherman Hemsley.

--Where: Disney Channel.

--When: 7:30 and 8:30 tonight; also Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Jan. 30.

--Our rating: Three stars

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo: Alex Datcher, clockwise from left, Kasan Butcher, Robert Townsend and Michael J. Pagan star in ``Up, Up and Away.''

Box: THE FACTS (see text)
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:L.A. Life
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Television Program Review
Date:Jan 22, 2000
Words:405
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