Picks and Pans Review: Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detecttve

updated 03/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

HBO (Fri., March 9, 8 P.M. ET)

C+

Think of this show, based on the best-selling children's book series by Donald J. Sobol, as a pint-size, scaled down version of Columbo. Ten-year-old detective Encyclopedia Brown (played amusingly by Scott Bremner) doesn't have the rumpled raincoat, but he does have the bass ackwards Columbo way of solving a mystery.

There are six new stories in the series, which was introduced last season. (They are shown individually, in typical HBO rotation.)

The quality varies. The first one to air, a caper involving a UFO, is a big, dopey dud. The real mystery is why they filmed it. And Jillie Mack (Mrs. Tom Selleck) is wasted in a guest shot as a scientist.

"The Case of the Amazing Race Car," however, is a quite funny tale involving a soapbox derby. All six episodes were directed by the talented and offbeat Savage Steve (Better Off Dead) Holland.

The series might fly as a regular program if its producers come up with more scripts like the car episode and quell their fondness for pratfalls.

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