Picks and Pans Review: Damon

updated 03/30/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/30/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

FOX (Sun., March 22 and 29 and April 5, 8:30 p.m. ET)

C-

Damon Wayans called it a midseason "assassination" when FOX killed 413 Hope St.—which he created but did not appear in—after the drama got drubbed in the slot opposite Seinfeld. Hope's only hope may have been a change of venue; Wayans's new sitcom is assured one already. After three Sunday "previews," Damon airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET, starting April 6.

This time, Wayans is the lead actor as well as an executive producer. He plays an undercover policeman who assumes disguises to catch criminals—a flimsy excuse to run through a range of comic caricatures, as he did in the early '90s on the sketch series In Living Color. In the two episodes we've seen, Wayans comes alive when his character pretends to be a flamboyant pimp or a horny old man or a scuzzy derelict. But when the cop is himself, the star is on autopilot. Wayans's ex-In Living Color compadre David Alan Grier is funnier as the cop's brother, a fumbling security guard. And there's apparently no law that says Andrea Martin (SCTV) can't waste a fraction of her talent playing a brassy, sex-starved police captain. As for the show's abundant bad taste (note the prostate-exam scene of April 5), it should dispel any nasty rumors that the man behind 413 Hope St. has surrendered to maturity.

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