Picks and Pans Review: Whoopi

updated 09/15/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/15/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

NBC (Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET)

"Try to be a little less harsh," her lawyer brother Courtney (Wren T. Brown) implores hotelier Mavis (series star Whoopi Goldberg; see story page 89) in this strident sitcom's Sept. 9 debut. If only she'd listen.

Mavis, a one-hit singing star in the '80s, smokes like a chimney and spews racial and ethnic cracks while running her small Manhattan establishment. Her handyman Nasim (Omid Djalili) talks loudly and constantly about being from Iran, stressing that he's a Persian, not an Arab. "All you people look alike to me," Mavis says. What a howl.

Courtney has a white girlfriend, Rita (Elizabeth Regen), who acts like a cartoon version of a soul sister. She's good for a laugh or two, but she'd wear better if her pose slipped occasionally.

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