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TV REVIEW : 'Living Single' on a Bumpy Road to Good Comedy

The New Season. One in a series

August 21, 1993|HOWARD ROSENBERG

Premiering at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on Channel 11, "Living Single" is caricature comedy, a classic sitcom that's predicated on gross exaggeration. That makes it compatible with "Martin," the incumbent comedy it follows in Fox's fall schedule.

In addition, both have energetic young African-American casts, both make more noise than sense, both yield pearls of clever wit. Unfortunately, you have to dive 10,000 fathoms to locate them.

In the premiere of "Living Single," a comedy about four young women occupying a swanky New York brownstone, the best moments come near the end of the half-hour when the broad comedy has narrowed perceptibly. The least cartoonish and most appealing of the women is Khadijah (rapper Queen Latifah), who operates a magazine aimed at upwardly mobile African-American women. The low burlesque is supplied by her loopy cousin, Synclaire (Kim Coles), her shallow cosmetologist childhood friend, Regine (Kim Fields), and her former college roommate, Maxine (Erica Alexander), a kick-ass super feminist who believes that "men are nothing but speed bumps on the road to happiness." The inevitable drop-by neighbors, both male, are the preening Kyle (T.C. Carson), and Kyle's slow-witted roommate, Overton the handyman (John Henton), who promises to be the show's funniest character.

In that it follows one of Fox's more successful series, "Living Single" may be on the road to longevity. So far in terms of comedy, though, it's the speed bump.

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