Same old leftovers recycled on 'Dot Comedy'

Friday, December 8, 2000

Futurists are forever predicting that computers and televisions will synergize into one glorious, life-fulfilling medium. But if ABC's new series, "Dot Comedy," is a sign of things to come, viewers may wish to turn back the hands of time.

What better way to embrace an exciting new entertainment experience than with a tired old programming formula? So to present its showcase of Web entertainment, "Dot Comedy's" producers dusted off the staging and set-ups from "TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes." Slap a few computer screens up, add a little retro-Jetsons furniture and � presto change-o � from '80s dinosaur to 21st-century cool.

Or not. The idea of swapping in animated shorts and oddball Web sites for flubbed lines and celebrity hijinks may have seemed a natural in the boardroom. But on screen, "Dot Comedy" is silly and superficial. Even worse, it's not funny.

One problem is hosts Jason and Randy Sklar. The comedic twins are two more annoying celebrities for which we have MTV to thank. Another cable TV veteran, Annabelle Gurwitch, desperately tries to provide some counterpoint to the Sklar brothers' relentless riffing, but she's fighting a losing battle.

Another problem is in trying to present the exceedingly adult delights of the Web in a family-friendly format.

As a warning reminds viewers, Internet browsers are just a click away from a virtual Sodom or electronic Gomorrah.

The result is that the show's subject � the wonders of the Internet � gets glossed over and mostly unexplored.

Maybe some interesting things will come from the interplay between the show and its Web site. But the debut is a dud.