Tracey Ullman's latest spec, made in England with a British cast, makes much of British humor without raising as many Yank laughs as the comedian did in October's "Tracey Ullman Takes on New York." In "Class Act," Ullman and company are just this side of showing off.

Tracey Ullman’s latest spec, made in England with a British cast, makes much of British humor without raising as many Yank laughs as the comedian did in October’s “Tracey Ullman Takes on New York.” In “Class Act,” Ullman and company are just this side of showing off.

Opening sesh has Ullman sitting in for Alistair Cooke (!), then showcasing the English class system. Whether it’s aboard a plane or in a sendup of the film “35 Up,” in which Ullman plays multiple parts and Michael Palin plays out the whole life of an upper-class Brit, the humor’s thin.

A powder-room skit doesn’t make it, no matter how many characters Ullman plays, and “Hethers,” a vignette about a struggling family sending their daughter off to a posh girls’ school (with Ullman as mom and daughter) furnishes only one surprise: There’s no resolution.

Spec winds up with an overblown act in which Ullman, grotesquely made up as an effeminate flight steward, insists on chirping, “I Am What I Am.” It’s as welcome as the town drunk bellowing “I’ve Got to Be Me.”

“A Class Act” it isn’t. The specialized skits are wan or obvious, some of the lingo a challenge to American ears, and Ullman’s multifaceted talent begins to blur. And someone had better notify Ullman’s battalion of writers that Russell Baker’s now the “Masterpiece Theatre” host.

Tracey Ullman: A Class Act

(Sat. (20), 10:15-11:15 p.m., HBO)

Production

Taped in England by WitzEnd Prods. and SelectTV PLC. Exec producer, Allan McKeown; producer, Jo Wright; director, Les Blair; writers, Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Kim Fuller, Gary Howe, Richard Preddy; production designer, Jim Grant; art director, Rebecca Harugy.

Crew

Music, Simon Brint.

Cast

Cast: Tracey Ullman, Michael Palin, Timothy Spall, Susan Wooldridge, Gareth Armstrong, Ellie Beaver, Salina Cadell, John Cartwright, Stephanie Court, Amanda Dickinson, Guy Edwards, Jon Glover, Ann Gosling, John Harding, Sophie Hinkley, Leila Hoffman, Robert Lang, Laurel Lefkow, Rohan McCulloch, Chloe Mostyn, Nicola O'Connell, Matthew Owens, Sam Preston, Sakuntala Ramanee, Alexandra Staden, Nicola Stoker, Tip Tipping, Eddie Webber.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more