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December 15, 1985|HOWARD ROSENBERG

COMEDY--TV laughers come in all shapes. But seldom have they been as diverse as this week's eclectic bunch of programs ranging from the conventional to the off-center.

The still-enormously popular Bob Hope, who has always been money in the bank for NBC, returns at 9 p.m. Sunday (Channels 4, 36 and 39) in a yule special titled "The Bob Hope Christmas Show" that features Brooke Shields, Emmanuel Lewis of "Webster," Barbara Eden, the Associated Press All-America team and the Rose Queen and her court.

Hope's main man, though, will be William (Refrigerator) Perry, the 302-pound Chicago Bears defensive lineman and occasional offensive back who has become this season's most oversold and over-hyped unexciting sports personality.

At 5 p.m., meanwhile, four hours before Hope's opening monologue, English comics Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones will show up in "Alas Smith & Jones," a British comedy series premiering on cable's Arts & Entertainment Network. (It's repeated opposite Hope at 9 p.m.)

Smith and Jones are the minds behind Britain's successful "Not the Nine O'Clock News" series, which inspired HBO's "Not Necessarily the News." They begin each half-hour greeting their audience in a spoof of Rowan and Martin before giving way to a free-form format of satirical comedy that the A&E Network describes as "lunatic humor." It's refreshing to learn that not all the lunatics on TV are American.

Flash forward now to 8 p.m. Saturday for an hour of KCET Channel 28's "Carl Reiner's the Light Stuff." Reiner, one of America's more creative comedic minds, traces the origin of the genre in a program that blends impromptu performances from contemporary comic stars with clips of famous past performers.

However, the last--and probably biggest--laugh goes to "Not Necessarily the Year in Review" at 10 that night on HBO. This is a wrap-up edition of the slashingly, smashingly funny "Not Necessarily the News" series that satirizes current events and public figures through the inventive "editing" of news clips and insertion of special commentary.

Finally, a spoofing newscast that is funnier even than real newscasts.

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