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'Homeboys' Boldly Goes Into Spaciness


No, "Homeboys in Outer Space" is not about African Americans at the recent Republican National Convention.

Instead, it may be the single UFO in a new television season of blurry look-alikes, a medium-sized hoot of a comedy series that plays like an extended sketch from Fox's late, unevenly great "In Living Color."

Created by Ehrich Van Lowe, UPN's "Homeboys" has about the same level of consistency as "Color," some of its self-mocking humor crashing like meteorites, some of it zooming. A hybrid of "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" sendups with an ethnic twist, the very absurdity of "Homeboys" offers the prospect of supremely rewarding nonsense.

The setting is the 23rd century, where ever-bungling soldiers of fortune Tyberius Walker (Flex) and Morris Clay (Darryl M. Bell) crisscross the galaxy in a rickety spacecraft they call the Hoopty. Also on board--and providing the show's funnier moments--is their computer, Loquatia (Rhona L. Bennett), a sassy, ain't-taking-no-guff, trash-talking head who lectures them from a TV monitor.

The homeboys also do some schmoozing at a "Star Wars" bar-type hangout operated by Tyberius' burly brother-in-law, Vashti (Kevin M. Richardson), for whom customer service is not a high priority.

Patron: "This drink is watered down."

Vashti (zapping him with his weapon): "So are you."

A more formidable regular at the bar is is the homeboys' competitor, Amma (Paulette Braxton), a dominatrix as dangerous as she is alluring. Equally threatening, perhaps, is the famous Jed Eye (Edafe Blackmon), who tonight commissions Tyberius and Morris to bring back a precious mineral from a "highly volatile swirling mass of gasses" known as the Crab Nebula. Lotsa luck.

Finding laughs among the asteroids is no easier at times. The writing could be tighter here, the satire sharper and more sophisticated. On the other hand, the very charm of "Homeboys" is its raw spaciness and lack of pretentiousness, proving that swirling gasses, for their own sake, can be fun.

* "Homeboys in Outer Space" airs tonight at 8:30 on UPN Channel 13.

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