Picks and Pans Review: I, Martin Short, Goes Hollywood

updated 06/05/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/05/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

HBO (Sat., June 3, 10 P.M. ET)

B+

The immensely talented, innovative comic from Saturday Night Live serves up a smorgasbord of tasty characters—some familiar, some new—in this hour-long spoof of show business personalities. Short is brilliant at chameleonlike changes of personality, and he can make the grotesque seem poignant. He's also a fine singer, as he demonstrates here. His most successful bit takes place at a star-studded restaurant in which Short and writer-actor Christopher Guest play gossip columnists; while dining they offer hilarious, bitchy comments on the famous clientele and each other's fatuous lives. Elsewhere on this bizarre Hollywood tour, Short assumes various disguises, including a plastic surgeon's female receptionist who has had a few too many lifts. We also encounter the indestructible Tina Wise, a Hollywood agent played to perfection by Tracey Ullman. The show's least successful skits involve two of Short's creations, nerdy Ed Grimley and albino lounge lizard Jackie Rogers Jr. The characters are fascinating but they overstay their welcome.

This special is funny, though, and refreshing in demonstrating again that adult humor doesn't have to rely on four-letter words, salacious jokes and bathroom references to get laughs.

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