April 10, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

There’s an excellently cynical idea behind Push (ABC, Mondays, 8-9 p.m.): Take the usual overheated teen soap and place it in the context of good-looking Olympic athletics, where all that heat mingles with muscle and sweat to create one hot little show. Alas, Push is not the musky melodrama I’d hoped for. It’s produced by people whom the ABC press release credits with creating an ”award-winning Guess? Jeans campaign,” and they do know how to build a little steam between coach Victor (Adam Trese) and promising gymnast Nikki (Jamie Pressly); Victor goes glaze-eyed watching Nikki’s sinewy thighs execute those springy horse dismounts. But this sort of material should be played for camp. Instead, the show’s slickly shot sports segments and such straight-arrow dialogue as ”The road to the Olympics goes through here,” slow down what minimal dramatic pace the series manages to build. Push is already a candidate to be pulled. C-


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