So old-school TV is “Crusoe” that it’s no wonder the NBC show was a low-rated, single-season series. That doesn’t mean it’s bad “ anything but, really.
Now out in a three-disc box set from Universal, “Crusoe” reveals itself to newbie viewers as something of anomaly in today’s network TV schedules: an hour-long action/adventure show that doesn’t involve complex, plodding mythology. In other words, something you’d expect to have seen in the ’80s or ’90s.
This “Crusoe” is still Daniel Defoe’s marooned Robinson Crusoe of classic literature, but updated to resemble “a steampunk MacGyver,” as a friend put it. Played by Philip Winchester, he’s a strapping, 17th-century hero who has the misfortune of being shipwrecked on a lush, sunny island, which he’s booby-trapped just in case.
His right-hand man is the native Friday (Tongai Arnold Chirisa), but there’s no shortage of visitors. Among the obstacles they encounter are pirates, cannibals, Sam Neill and assorted beasts of the animal variety. Crusoe just wants to live long enough to make it back home to his wife (Anna Walton), who doesn’t believe he’s dead.
Although the concept is a tad limiting for a series, “Crusoe” is fun, period. The drama and romance elements may be overplayed, but the 13 episodes deliver pure, old-fashioned escapist action