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With "First Target," TNT recycles a proven formula.

"Target" Audience

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Rarely is a sequel better than the original. But "First Target," the TBS cable channel's follow-up to last year's "First Daughter," is an exception.

But before you get too excited, keep in mind that "First Daughter" was mediocre. What's the next half-step up from mediocre, anyway? Whatever it is, that's the grade that "First Target" deserves.

"First Daughter" — you do get the similarity in titles, don't you? — was about a Secret Service agent and a river guide who saved the president's daughter from domestic terrorists during a white-water rafting trip.

"First Target" is about a Secret Service agent and a river guide who save the president from assassins during a national park commemoration in Washington state.

There may be a pattern developing here.

Mariel Hemingway played agent Alex McGregor in the first movie. This time, Daryl Hannah steps into the role, although Gregory Harrison returns as President Jonathan Hayes and Doug Savant is back as Grant Coleman, the river guide.

"First Target" starts off like a bat out of Hades when the president is attacked by terrorists — armed with the latest in awe-inspiring automatic weapons — during a speech. But just when you think the terrorists have won the day, the whole melee is revealed as a Secret Service training exercise. McGregor, now the chief of the White House detail, gets to royally chew out the agent who blew the exercise.

Then, just as Coleman — who is now in love with McGregor — gets ready to pop the question, McGregor has to head off to Washington state with the president, who is cutting the ribbon for a new tram at a national park. But that's cool: Washington conveniently happens to be where Coleman lives, so he can tag along with the presidential party and pop the question there. In fact, the president, still grateful for Coleman's help in saving his daughter in the last movie, encourages him to do just that.

But there's a problem: those pesky assassins, hired by big-business interests with the support of the vice-president. They plan to blow up the tram while the president is onboard. Complicating things even further is that fact that at least one Secret Service agent from the Washington state office is in on the assassination plot.

You won't be surprised that Agent McGregor, with Coleman's help, manages to save the day and the president's life — although the climax would stretch the credulity of an 8-year-old.

"First Daughter" was, speaking of stretching credulity, the highest-rated made-for-cable movie ever broadcast, so it's no wonder that TBS has whipped out a sequel.

Given that "once-bitten, twice-shy" is an aphorism that packs the punch of authentic wisdom, it'll be interesting to see if the TV audience falls for "First Target."

If I had to wager on it, I'd ... well, never mind. I'll let your own credulity be your

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