- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Too ‘Simple’

The girls who put the “real” in “really spoiled” are back with all new adventures on Fox.

“The Simple Life 2: Road Trip,” starring professional debutantes Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, returns as the two friends hit the road to mock and be mocked by Middle America.

The show, back at 8 tonight for its second season, features the same kind of forced hijinks that fans of the show apparently gobble up like bonbons.

Here, Misses Hilton and Richie drive across the United States in a huge pink truck with an even more garish trailer in tow.

Consider this “Life” another reality show that hardly feels real. What’s worse, however, is that the overly coifed duo find themselves enormously entertaining — even if we don’t.

A second helping of “Life” also follows at 9 p.m. … just in case a half-hour isn’t enough.

Richter-scale mishap

Andy Richter really tried to star in a smart, edgy sitcom for Fox. Honestly.

The former Conan O’Brien sidekick headlined “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” a year or so ago, but despite glowing reviews, the show never found an audience.

Let’s hope his second Fox effort, “Quintuplets,” shares the same fate.

The new show, debuting tonight at 8:30, finds Mr. Richter as the patriarch of a five-child family — quintuplets, to be precise. The children are teenagers, but they’re still giving Mr. Richter’s character and his on-screen wife, Carol (Rebecca Creskoff), fits.

The show’s rapid pacing never lets viewers catch their breath. The bulk of the gags involve the quints’ sexual obsessions. Mama and Papa can’t stop talking about sex, either, and none of the dialogue is funny enough to warrant the steamy chatter.

It also doesn’t help that all five children are instantly grating.

“Quintuplets” stands out as a primer on what’s wrong with the modern sitcom: garish characters, sex-obsessed teens, cheap jokes and parents who barely seem to like — let alone love — their children.

Then again, who could love this group unconditionally?

Mr. Richter doesn’t look old enough to be the father of this brood. Moreover, the comic certainly deserves better than being stuck in this humor wasteland.

Rap relief

Fox won’t have to go 0-for-3 with debuts tonight, thanks to the mildly amusing rap comedy “Method & Red.”

The new sitcom, which gets props just for not featuring another gaggle of spoiled children or flustered parents, casts real-life rap stars Method Man and Redman, both black, as the newest neighbors in a posh white hamlet.

The sitcom, airing at 9:30 p.m., boasts an obvious but buoyant soundtrack and an easygoing chemistry between the leads.

While the potential for “fish out of water” gags appears endless, the show contents itself by trotting out tired hip-hop cliches. Sometimes, though, the jokes hit their mark, and the sitcom’s energy level never dips below high.

Former “Daily Show” commentator Beth Littleford co-stars as an aggrieved neighbor with little patience for the duo’s shenanigans. It’s a mostly thankless role but one the actress might grow into over subsequent episodes, given her delicate comedy work in the past.

Tonight’s premiere has the rappers’ posh home potentially being yanked out from under them because their raucous parties violate the town’s noise ordinances. The show’s best scenes involve Miss Littleford’s son, a boy who worships rap music and could use some fatherly advice from the rapping duo.

On the other hand, the pilot’s heavy-handed moralizing could be handled better, and the show’s powerful mother figure (Anna Maria Horsford, from NBC’s “Amen”) is quickly becoming an urban cliche.

“Method & Red” needs plenty of improvements, but it’s far easier to sit through than either “Quintuplets” or “The Simple Life 2.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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