The humor in 'Babes' is so obvious and so lame that it's embarrassing

Television

September 13, 1990|By Michael Hill

The three actresses in "Babes" so overplay their roles that you might say they chew on the scenery, except in their case, IT LOOKS LIKE THEY'VE ALREADY EATEN ALL OF IT!

Sorry for that crude attempt at humor at the expense of the leads in this new Fox sitcom about the lives and loves of three overweight sisters, but that's about the level of the jokes in this show.

If your idea of humor is watching an overweight woman try to pose seductively on a couch and instead fall over its back, or seeing this hefty trio collapse a hide-a-bed in the apartment they are all sharing, in a joke so telegraphed that Samuel F.B. Morse should get residuals for it, then you should get a lot of chuckles tonight at 8:30 on Channel 45 (WBFF) as Fox has given "Babes" its most-advantageous time period, after "The Simpsons."

But if you think this whole issue of the amount of respect -- and lack of respect -- that overweight women get in our thin-oriented society can be treated humorously with a bit more sophistication, then you won't want to include "Babes" in your prime-time diet.

"Babes" stars Wendy Jo Sperber, who was excellent in "Bosom Buddies" as Charlene. Here, she is bringing her new boyfriend, the owner of her favorite ribs joint, back to her apartment in an opening scene that's close to embarrassing in the handling of its sexual innuendo.

Enter older sister Darlene, played by Susan Peretz, a movie veteran -- she was the wife of Al Pacino in "Dog Day Afternoon" -- who played the overweight woman who sued for discrimination on "L.A. Law". She's finally left her husband for good after catching him in bed with his suddenly-slim coach from Weight Watchers. She moves in. Before the act break, they've been joined by younger sister Marlene, played by Lesley Boone, who's lost her job as a toll collector because the booths have gone automatic.

Though there are the obligatory lines about self-esteem and such, most of the script is on the level of Darlene's first breakfast -- an entire box of corn flakes poured into a bowl that looks like it was supposed to hold enough Alpo for a Great Dane, eaten with a huge wooden spoon. Ah, such insight, such sensitivity.

And if that's not offensive enough, wait until you see the two mincing gay makeup men at the studio where Charlene works.

Remember when "Taxi" had that great episode on the fat woman whose voice Alex had fallen for, the insight and humor in the wonderful soliloquy she gave about her life when she finally showed up and Alex got a look at her size? Well, you're not going to find anything like that in "Babes."

What you are going to find is one of the tragedies of our society's image of weight -- three clearly talented actresses who have to stoop to material like this to get on a series. And when they stoop, MAYBE THEY'LL SPLIT THEIR PANTS! These are three fat ladies you hope will sing soon so "Babes" will be over.

'Babes'

* The trials and tribulations of three sisters who share an apartment and a clearly evident fondness for food.

CAST: Wendy Jo Sperber, Susan Peretz, Lesley Boone

TIME: Thursdays at 8:30

CHANNEL: Fox Channel 45 (WBFF)

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