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Tv Nation

As a lead-in to "The X-Files,""TV Nation" looks like a sharp pickup for Fox.

As a lead-in to “The X-Files,””TV Nation” looks like a sharp pickup for Fox.

What seems different are quickened individual segments (normally five minutes to six minutes long, separated by quirky transitional factoids), four new correspondents (Janeane Garofalo, Rusty Cundieff, Jeff Stilson and Steven Wright , plus returnees Karen Duffy and Louis Theroux) and a slightly goofier, jokier approach to the targets.

The musical motifs are particularly rich. One of the gems on the premiere is a wickedly funny beach-landing assault by correspondent Garofalo leading the “TV Nation” flotilla onto the guarded private shore of Greenwich, Conn., with local bathers and property owners up in arms.

It looks too good to be staged.

Greenwich fathers vehemently argue that “if you want to use our beach then buy property here and pay your taxes!” (The restrictive policy is being tested in court.)

This the kind of edge, such as last year’s expose of exploitative U.S. companies in northern Mexico, that gives the show its punch.

Although still funny but less pointed because of its low-brow imagery is the crime-fightingchicken invading the chambers of the N.Y. mayor and a Boston bank.

“This is no joke,” declares a flustered but still composed Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Responds the deadpan Moore: “Crackers is no joke. He fights crime.”

Other segments include a felon named Louis Bruno officially filing to run for U.S. president and waging a kickoff campaign in New Hampshire at the same time as Bob Dole; a family company that cleans up dead bodies after a bloody crime scene; and a visit to Mississippi just before the state recently ratified the 13 th Amendment outlawing slavery.

“TV Nation,” mercifully, is alive and well, at least for the moment.

Popular on Variety

Tv Nation

(Fri. (21), 8-9 p.m., Fox)

Production: Taped by Dog Eat Dog Films, the BBC and TriStar TV. Exec producer, Michael Moore; producer, Kathleen Glynn; senior producer, David Wald; supervising producer, Jerry Kupfer; coordinating producer, Joanne Doroshow; segment producers, Stanley Nelson, Kate O'Clanahan, Geoff O'Connor, Chuck Smith, Pamela Yates; writers, Moore, Ann Cohen, John Derevlany, Francis Gasparini, Jay Martel, Jeff Stilson, Richard Whitley, Frances Alswang, Kent Alterman, David Berrent, Jim Czarnecki, Paco de Onis, Patrick Farrelly, Peri Muldofsky; editors, Paola Heredia, Kristen Huntley, Wendey Stanzler, Daisy Wright, David Zieff. #Host: Michael Moore; correspondents, Rusty Cundieff, Karen Duffy, Jeff Stilson, Louis Theroux, Moore, Janeane Garofalo, Steven Wright. Accompanied by a new mascot/poultry policeman --"Crackers the Corporate Crime Fighting Chicken"--"TV Nation" director-writer-host Michael Moore, irreverently returns to the air with a premiere that's arguably loonier on Fox than its shortened parade last year on NBC. The documentary-style news magazine, claims Moore in a letter to TV critics pitching an advance copy of his first episode, "moved to Fox because we were offered a lot more money, perks and use of the corporate jet." That nicely approximates the tone of the show.

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