- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2002

Imitation has always been the sincerest form of flattery, and it's always been a staple of network television.
The tradition continues Thursday when NBC debuts "Leap of Faith," a new comedy from one of the writers and producers of HBO's "Sex and the City." It airs at 8:30 p.m. on WRC-TV (Channel 4).
"Faith" is practically a carbon copy of "Sex," with similar characters, dialogue and production values.
Still, if you're going to rip off a TV show, you may as well rip off one of the best. "Faith" may not be very original, but it does have its own charm.
The show follows Faith Wardwell (Sarah Paulson), a spirited New York advertising executive who, in the first episode, gets a case of cold feet on the eve of her wedding to David, a "good-on-paper guy."
Faith has a fling with a handsome actor, then ditches David and begins to re-evaluate her life.
She gets help from her pals: oversexed Patty (Lisa Edelstein), smart Cynthia (Regina King) and platonic guy friend Andy (Ken Marino).
They sit around a lot and dish about men and relationships. Close your eyes and you'll swear you're listening to "Sex and the City." (Cynthia on living with temptation: "This is Manhattan. Man-hattan. There are hot guys all around us.")
Fortunately, the show never veers in the outrageousness of "Sex." It does maintain the HBO show's solid production values, though. Like "Sex," "Faith" doesn't have an annoying laugh track or a studio audience.
In the two episodes made available for preview, the vulnerable Faith seems a lot more likable than Carrie Bradshaw, the often-selfish heroine of "Sex and the City." She certainly lacks the moody attitude that Carrie displayed in the recently concluded fourth season of "Sex."
Miss Paulson, previously a regular on the WB series "Jack & Jill," is quite good in the Faith role, capturing her character's humanity well.
She is not a classic beauty, but she makes Faith fetching nonetheless.
Another distinctive twist is Jill Clayburgh, who plays Faith's flighty mother, Cricket.
We never see the "Sex and the City" gals interact with their parents, so Miss Clayburgh's presence should help set "Faith" apart from "Sex."
Unfortunately, Miss. Clayburgh is barely seen in the first episode, and in the second, she spends most of her screen time with Miss King.
The producers probably would also like us to think having Faith and her gal friends hang around with Andy helps make this show different from "Sex and the City," whose main characters are all women.
Unfortunately, the Andy character rings false.
What straight guy spends all his time hanging around with his chatty female friends?
I mean, c'mon. Hasn't "Sex and the City" taught us anything about the relationships between straight men and women?

***
WHAT: "Leap of faith"
WHERE: NBC (WRC-TV Channel 4)
WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Thursday
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS



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