September 17, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

The two biggest hits among syndicated action hours in recent seasons have been Xena: Warrior Princess and Pamela Anderson Lee’s V.I.P., so it’s no surprise others are now trying to copy their formulas. This fall, four new syndie dramas will mix cleavage with carnage: Relic Hunter, Peter Benchley’s Amazon, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, and The Dream Team. In case you’re not familiar with this burgeoning genre, we’ve boiled down these fresh entries to their five essential elements.

1. BABES IN THE WOODS Relic Hunter stars Wayne’s World‘s schwing-worthy Tia Carrere as the aptly named Sydney Fox, an Indiana Jones-esque history professor who searches the wilds for artifacts. Amazon features another Mike Myers-approved hottie, Fabiana Udenio (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery’s Alotta Fagina), plus Ur-supermodel Carol Alt as plane-crash survivors in the South American rain forest. The Lost World shares the same setting and includes among its party of stranded explorers a bikini-topped jungle girl (Backstreet Boys video vet Jennifer O’Dell). And The Dream Team casts former Stallone chaperon Angie Everhart, Baywatch alum Traci Bingham, and ex-Miss Poland Eva Halina as spies in tropical Puerto Rico.

2. AN INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR Since these shows target overseas markets (jiggling requires no subtitles), their casts and locales reflect a global focus. For example, onetime 007 Roger Moore appears on The Dream Team as the agents’ mystery-shrouded supervisor; he’ll shoot his scenes at a blue-screen studio near his Monaco home. The Canadian-French coproduction Relic Hunter pairs Carrere with a stodgy Brit sidekick named Nigel (Christien Anholt).

3. DOUBLE-ENTENDRE-RICH DIALOGUE ”The most important thing at the beginning of the term is to get the students excited about history and hungry for more,” says Carrere while stripping to her bra and panties in front of her new teaching assistant Anholt. And when the nubile O’Dell presents The Lost World‘s resident British professor (Michael Sinelnikoff) with a chestload of melon-size berries, he gazes at her bounty and declares, ”What magnificent abundance!” Okay, so it’s not exactly Noël Coward …

4. CREEPY-CRAWLY CREATURES Carrere conquers her fear of cockroaches in Relic Hunter‘s pilot, and killer snakes slither through Amazon. The Lost World boasts giant bees, ape-men, and dinosaurs (gee, do you think they’re hoping you’ll assume this show is based on the Spielberg movie of the same name instead of on an obscure story by Sherlock Holmes creator Doyle?).

5. GRATUITOUS T&A Carrere does a hula-like dance in front of her class. The Dream Team fights crime in swimsuits. Amazon‘s Alt and Udenio take off their shirts during a convenient downpour to make a tourniquet for a snake-bitten comrade. A Lost World beauty (Rachel Blakely) shreds her undies to save a bee-stung cohort. Sure, it’s shameless, but it’s tame compared with what audiences in other countries routinely see. In fact, The Lost World will include nudity that’s set to be excised for prudish U.S. viewers — at least for now. One of the show’s exec producers, John Landis, never missed a chance to display bare flesh in his old HBO sitcom, Dream On. If anyone can put the sin in syndication, it’s him.

More reviews at (AOL keyword: EW)

You May Like