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Head Over Heels

There are more dim bulbs than an old string of Christmas lights in this latest entry by UPN in the sitcom derby. While its stylish and provocative "Silk Stalkings"-type opening is an eye-catcher, the action that follows the credits is strictly a snoozefest. Even Kevin Farley, who mirrors the demeanor of his brother Chris, can't save this effort.

With:
Cast: Peter Dobson, Mitchell Whitfield, Cindy Ambuehl, Eva Larue, Patrick Bristow.

There are more dim bulbs than an old string of Christmas lights in this latest entry by UPN in the sitcom derby. While its stylish and provocative “Silk Stalkings”-type opening is an eye-catcher, the action that follows the credits is strictly a snoozefest. Even an appearance by Kevin Farley, who mirrors the demeanor of his brother Chris, can’t save this effort.

The Head Over Heels dating service is led by two competitive brothers, Jack and Warren Baldwin (Peter Dobson and Mitchell Whitfield, respectively) whose business plan is to “help people find love and make a reasonable profit.”

But their efforts are frequently challenged by their own libidos and a staff of dysfunctional “counselors,” who include Carmen (Eva LaRue) a Ph.D. candidate working on a doctorate in human behavior and sexuality whose comments unintentionally suggest it is a mail-order course, and Ian (Patrick Bristow), whose grating personality is seemingly exacerbated as a result of his vow of celibacy. Valentina (Cindy Ambuehl) is a stripper-turned-receptionist who is the least knuckleheaded of the group — a mindless scribe device to conflict with her stunning good looks.

Series bow finds the staff debating the merits of a new policy prohibiting the firm’s employees from dating clients. The move is tested when Warren takes up with Nikki (Heidi Mark), the agency’s newest — and presumably most desirable — client.

Naturally, the policy is abandoned when Jack catches Warren and Nikki in a post-coital afterglow while sitting on the floor of Warren’s office.

Between Jack’s frequent efforts to pick up on the latest signee (actions which precipitated the unpopular client-dating policy) and the stereotypical swishiness of Ian, who apparently has some underlying issues that will undoubtedly surface in subsequent episodes, scripter Jeff Franklin has given his cast every cliche imaginable to either articulate or act out.

Matthew Diamond’s direction appears to be little more than instructing his cast to respond to everything in the fashion of Sherman Hemsley’s excitable George Jefferson.

Head Over Heels

Tues. (26); 9:30-10 p.m.; UPN

Production: Taped in Los Angeles by Montrose Prods. in assn. with Jeff Franklin Prods. and Columbia TriStar TV. Executive producer, Jeff Franklin; producer, Pamela Putch; co-producer, Andrew Gottlieb; consulting producers, Vince Cheung, Ben Montanio; director, Matthew Diamond; writer, Jeff Franklin.

Crew: Editor, Mike Cole; director of photography, Dan Johnson; production design, Jerry Dunn; sound, Larry Lasota; music, Jonathan Wolff, Paul Buckley.

Cast: Cast: Peter Dobson, Mitchell Whitfield, Cindy Ambuehl, Eva Larue, Patrick Bristow.Guests: Kevin Farley, Heidi Mark, Terri Ivens, Alex Meneses, Karen Dior, Brandi Coppock, Shawna Erickson, Maile Misajon, Anesha Johnson, Natalie Barish, Louisa Abernathy.

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