- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 6, 2004

‘Color’-ful DVDs

Television sketch comedy almost exclusively involves white performers. Think “The Kids in the Hall,” “Monty Python” and “SCTV.” Even “Saturday Night Live,” the dean of the format, features only a performer or two of color in most of its ensembles.

“In Living Color” changed all that.

The Fox sketch show, which debuted in 1990, featured its creator Keenen Ivory Wayans and a cast of mostly black comedians ripping through the same material “SNL” routinely trampled.

DVD owners can sample the first year of that groundbreaking show with “In Living Color — Season One” from Fox Home Entertainment. The box set includes 13 episodes for a retail price of $39.98.

The show helped start the careers of several performers, including Keenen’s brother Damon (now the star of ABC’s “My Wife and Kids”), District native Tommy Davidson, Jamie Foxx and David Alan Grier (ABC’s “Life With Bonnie”). It also gave a national spotlight to a then little-known Canadian-born comic named Jim Carrey — whose famous characters included Fire Marshal Bill and Vera Demilo — and an unknown performer named Jennifer Lopez, who was cast as one of the show’s dancers, more commonly known as the Fly Girls.

Some of the spoofing will seem dated today, and the show’s laugh track always appeared a click or two higher than your usual sitcom. But the program forced “SNL” to diversify its cast and also left us with some memorable sketches,including the “Men On …” series and Homey D. Clown.

The DVD package offers a show retrospective, featuring interviews with Mr. Grier, Mr. Davidson and other background talent. Sadly, none of the Wayans family contributed commentary for the package.

‘Falls’ off Fox

At least Fox’s critically acclaimed “Arrested Development” had a full season to try to prove itself before getting the hook.

Fox’s “Waterfalls,” another critical darling, had just four episodes to find its audience.

The series, set in the Niagara Falls area, got the ax this week after only a month on the air because of low ratings, Associated Press reports.

The lovely Caroline Dhavernas starred as a young woman who hears voices coming from animal figurines and other inanimate objects, directing her to intervene in other people’s lives.

The series, which debuted March 12, ranked 103rd for the week of March 22 to 28 with an audience of 3.3 million. By comparison, an airing of top-rated “American Idol” that week attracted 27 million viewers.

“Wonderfalls” is one of several new scripted shows to flop quickly this season. The list also includes CBS’ “Century City.” By contrast, reality shows — notably NBC’s “The Apprentice” — are proving hot.

Apocalyptic casting

John Rhys-Davis, best known for playing Gimli the dwarf in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, will co-star in NBC’s new drama “Revelations,” Reuters News Agency reports.

The drama pilot centers on a group’s efforts to forestall the apocalypse.

Bill Pullman stars as the group’s leader. Mr. Rhys-Davis plays a wheelchair-bound Harvard University professor emeritus, a genius astrophysicist and mentor to Mr. Pullman’s character.

In other casting news:

• “Spin City’s” Michael Boatman has nabbed a starring role in ABC’s untitled comedy pilot starring Lewis Black as a school principal. Mr. Boatman, who also starred on HBO’s “Arli$$,” will play the vice principal. Mr. Black is best known for his blustery comic rants on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

• “Blossom” alumnus Joey Lawrence — he of the catchphrase that wasn’t, “whoa!” — has landed the male lead in ABC’s comedy pilot “I Married Sofia.”

The show stars Sofia Vergara as a Colombian actress who pays an American stockbroker (Mr. Lawrence) to marry her for a green card. Jon Lovitz will guest star in the pilot as an INS agent.

NBC’s summer reality

NBC faces a stark reality this summer as both “Friends” and “Frasier” make their much-ballyhooed exits.

So, the network will do what most networks do these days: turn to reality programming to fill the gap.

The Peacock network says it will try to stay away from reruns as much as it can during the summer, Associated Press reports. Instead it will offer several reworkings of reality shows, or what it likes to call “unscripted dramas.”

Expect new seasons of “For Love or Money,” “Who Wants to Marry My Dad?” “Last Comic Standing” and a new series called “The Next Action Star.”

An original sitcom titled “Come to Papa” rounds out the summer programming list. It stars comedian Tom Papa and is based on his stand-up act about trying to better his life.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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