Picks and Pans Review: The Hughleys

UPDATED 09/18/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/18/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

UPN (Mondays, 9 p.m. ET)

How's this for a promo? "Stay tuned after Moesha for a spinoff, a castoff and a rip-off!"

Leave aside The Parkers, the sophomore series that sprang from Moesha, and consider what's new in UPN's Monday lineup: The Hughleys, relocating Sept. 11 after two ABC seasons, and Girlfriends (premiering the same night), an African-Americanized Sex and the City.

The four principals live in L.A., not Manhattan, and one is married (though hubby's safely out of sight in the first two episodes). But Girlfriends' debt to the HBO hit is screamingly obvious on Sept. 18 when attorney Joan (Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana), law-firm assistant Maya (Golden Brooks), real estate agent Toni (Jill Marie Jones) and perennial student Lynn (Persia White) sit around a restaurant table discussing the rules of romance. With nothing better to do, Lynn could write a sex column.

In the opener, Toni wounds Joan by taking up with Joan's former flame (prized for his toe-sucking talent) and contemptuously calls Maya Miss Ghetto Superstar. Maya accuses Toni of "stinkin' up the joint" and threatens to kick her behind. With girlfriends like these, who needs enemies? Joan could be smart and likable if given the chance, but her blatant booty-shaking and sexual desperation suggest that the writers are determined to embarrass the character. And she deserves a kick every time she talks to the camera.

D.L. Hughley's soul-man-in-the-suburbs act is getting old, but his show's season premiere departs from sitcom routine by turning a home-remodeling misadventure into a Survivor parody (with a cameo by castaway Gervase Peterson). Surprisingly, the spoof is less amusing than the setup, which pits suspicious householder Hughley against a conceited contractor (Burke Moses). Bottom Line: Monday's forecast is mostly cloudy

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