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TV REVIEW : 'Crew' Takes Off With Singular Banality

August 31, 1995|HOWARD ROSENBERG | TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

Dull, yet vacuous.

Fox says that appearances are misleading, that its new singles comedy, "The Crew," is merely a companion to its lead-in--the returning "Living Single"--not an intended soul mate of NBC's successful singles comedy, "Friends," which will precede NBC's new "Single Guy," which will precede "Seinfeld," which will precede the new "Caroline in the City" in a Thursday evening of singlemania.

Whatever "The Crew" is, what it isn't is funny or smart. So much for even inadvertently matching the singles wit of "Friends" or, for that matter, the sassy exuberance of "Living Single."

Rose Jackson, Kristin Bauer, David Burke and Charles Esten play four single flight attendants based in Miami, where they hang out at Mambo Mambo and gab mindlessly and exclusively about their social lives.

Mouthy Jess (Jackson) and straight-arrow Maggie (Bauer) are roommates. Randy (Esten) is a good ol' Southern boy who flies the friendly skies to meet females. Paul (Burke) is a gay cutup with a roving eye, using his internal "gaydar"--a play on radar--to identify sexual orientation. Christine Estabrook plays their nasty supervisor, Lane Davies a hunky pilot. Tonight finds Jess furious with Maggie for telling a guy Jess is wild about that she wants to date him. Jess doesn't want him to know she's wild about him because then he'd think she's wild about him. Or something like that.

This looks like a one-note series whose protagonists wouldn't cease their "Dating Game" patter even if their plane were going down.

It is nice to see a gay character without those caricaturish, collapsible wrists, but it would be nicer were Paul's gayness not such an issue. In this case, "The Crew" at times subtly perpetuates the myth of male homosexuals being necessarily feminine by giving the character a sensibility commonly associated with females.

Paul: "I first discovered I was gay in Cub Scouts, when I realized my neckerchief clashed with my hat."

Given the premiere and the childish woo-wooing that punctuates its sweetened laughter, "The Crew" may have been written for Cub Scouts.

* "The Crew" premieres at 8:30 tonight on Fox-TV Channel 11.

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