A relatively lame 'Family Affair'

If you have any respect or affection for the classic sitcom "Family Affair" (7 p.m., WB), you will avert your eyes from the dreadful retread debuting tonight. This "Family" desecrates a well-loved icon with bad casting, trite writing and a painful disregard for the emotional life of its characters.

Like the original, "Family Affair" follows a basic sitcom fantasy formula. Bill Davis (Gary Cole), an affluent bachelor and confirmed New Yorker who lives with his finicky British butler Mr. French (Tim Curry), suddenly and surprisingly inherits the custody of three cute kids named Buffy, Jody and Sissy (Sasha Pieterse, Luke Benward and Caitlin Wachs).

Unlike the original "Family," which aired from 1966 to 1971, this "comedy" opts to drag out the adoption process in a padded one-hour pilot episode. Future installments will, mercifully, run for only 30 minutes. Instead of magically showing up in the first two minutes, (or better yet, having their presence explained in the theme song), the kids are rudely dumped on Bill's doorstep by his flighty and self-centered sister. And as quickly as you can say the words "abandonment issues," Buffy and Jody almost burn down Uncle Bill's posh apartment. But even during this incendiary accident, the cute kids can't utter a word without the accompaniment of a deafening laugh-track.

Tonight's other highlights

� A desperate guy (David Spade) doggedly pursues his beautiful neighbor (Sophie Marceau) in the 1999 comedy "Lost & Found" (7 p.m., Fox).

� A duplicitous lawyer (Jim Carrey) is compelled to tell the truth in the 1997 comedy "Liar, Liar" (7 p.m., ABC).

� "Inside the NFL" (7 p.m., HBO) returns for its 26th season. Bob Costas and Cris Carter join hosts Cris Collinsworth and Dan Marino for pigskin prognostication.

� Catherine and Grissom investigate a kinky demimonde on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).

� Greene faces his final hours in Hawaii on "ER" (9 p.m., NBC).

� Scheduled on "Primetime" (9 p.m., ABC): an interview with Parisoula Lampsos, who claims to have been Saddam Hussein's longtime mistress.

Series notes

"Brother" is new ... Eviction No. 9 on a two-hour helping of "Big Brother 3" 7 p.m., CBS) ... Rachel tries to induce labor on "Friends" (7 p.m., NBC)... Wrestling on "WWE Smackdown" (7 p.m., UPN) � The gang try to help an elderly patient who lacks insurance on "Scrubs" (7:30 p.m., NBC) � On back-to-back episodes of "Will & Grace" (NBC), Glenn Close guest stars as a quirky photographer (8 p.m.), Will asks Grace to have his baby (8:30 p.m.)


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