Picks and Pans Review: Critic's Corner

updated 10/24/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/24/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>NEWS WITHOUT SUBSTANCE

TWO HALF-HOUR SYNDICATED SERIES (weeknights, check listings) add to the infotainment glut. Last Call gathers a mismatched handful of media "panelists" (Brianne Leary, Tad Low, Sue Ellicott, Elvis Mitchell and Terry McDonell) to crack wise and do wacky takes on the news ("What has happened to pork-belly futures since the O.J. case broke?" Say what?). The group sits around desperately trying to launch bons mots. Then there's Extra, a visually jittery showbiz magazine. Think of it as Entertainment Tonight with an attention deficit—and hipper incidental music. The show exhibits a story sense that is often untimely (too many location features on movies that won't be out for months) and unbalanced (on a recent night, Extra went to the trouble of setting up a live remote with Full House's John Stamos, in Memphis for the Elvis PPV show, then cut off Stamos after one sentence to do dull segments on an obscure actress, Jada Pinkett, and aging surfers). Dave Nemeth, a last-minute choice as cohost, is plastic. At least his partner, Arthel Neville, of the singing Nevilles, has enough spunk to overcome the drab writing. Most of the time, anyway. Arthel did an "interview" with Hangin' with Mr. Cooper's Holly Robinson that consisted of both women having their nails done while giggling over the fact that each is engaged to a Dallas Cowboy—Neville to Derrick Lassie and Robinson to Rodney Peete. If TV reporting can get any more frivolous, I don't want to see it.

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