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TV Review

MTV's 'Celebrity Deathmatch': Wickedly Funny Feats in Clay

May 14, 1998|HOWARD ROSENBERG | TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

What incredibly nasty fun.

When we last checked in on MTV's "Celebrity Deathmatch," switching over during halftime of the Super Bowl, Pamela Anderson Lee and RuPaul were getting it on (and off), Hanson and the Spice Girls were kicking one another's clay butts and Howard Stern was dispatching Kathie Lee Gifford with a withering double blast of flatulence. Naturally we wanted more.

And we're getting it, as MTV tonight opens a 13-part weekly series featuring additional clay animated fantasy battles between VIPs of film, TV, music and politics. It airs at 7:30 p.m., in addition to its regular 10 p.m. time slot, with MTV hoping to snag some of the evening's before-and-after "Seinfeld" finale crowd.

With good reason, for its featured match, "the brawl for it all, the war to settle the score," is between a clayish Jerry Seinfeld himself and another sitcom giant, Tim Allen of ABC's "Home Improvement." When interviewed before the fight by Stacy Cornbred, Jerry is up to his usual profundities: "How come every time I do my laundry, the dryer eats one of my socks?"

It may not be "Spitting Image," the matchless, savagely satirical British puppet series of several years ago that never caught on in the U.S., but "Celebrity Deathmatch" has low blows aplenty to keep you entertained for most of its half hour of wickedly funny foolishness.

That includes an intense opening match between Hillary Rodham Clinton and "an intern who gained a lot of experience under Bill Clinton, the first lady of lust, Monica Lewinsky."

Clinton and Gennifer Flowers also show up during the match, which is as violent and ugly as clay combat gets, with an ending too brutal to mention here. A hint: Think of squishable Mr. Bill.

The middle match, a grudge affair between Jim Carrey and Mariah Carey, ends on a shattering, er, note.

And then comes the Seinfeld-Allen featured bout, preceded by a press conference and one of those Olympics-style features with oozy music: "For months, they have prepared. . . ."

As for the match itself, with George, Elaine and Kramer at ringside, it's naturally about nothing, until its shocking conclusion.

Meanwhile, you also get a clay Mills Lane (who officiated the famous Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson ear-biting spectacle) as referee, a couple of goofy announcers and an "analyst extraordinaire" in Marv Albert, who gets his own comeuppance from writers Chris Kreski, Matt Harrigan, Michael Rubiner and Eric Fogel, who created the series.

The celebrity voices are close enough (only Mills speaks for himself) and the humor biting. As Albert would say (and does here): Yes!

* "Celebrity Deathmatch" premieres at 7:30 and 10 tonight on MTV. The network has rated it TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14).

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