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CARTER SHOW IS NO 'ROSEANNE,' BUT 'LENNY' IS WORTH A LOOK

PRUDISH TIFFANY is turning a bit crude. The late William S. Paley, who ran classy CBS when it became known as the Tiffany Network, just may be rolling over in his grave Saturday night.

It is unlikely you'll be rolling over with laughter.

CBS has replaced two saccharine comedies -- "The Family Man" and "The Hogan Family" -- with two loud working-class shows, "You Take the Kids" (8 p.m., Channel 4) and "Lenny" (8:30 p.m., Channel 4).

Taken together, these preachy shows demonstrate that CBS -- which is trying to attract younger viewers -- has sex on the brain.

Nell Carter is teamed with former "Magnum" co-star Roger E. Mosley in "Kids."

Like "Lenny," "Kids" has more than a little resemblance to "Roseanne." Both shows have smart-aleck senior citizens and smart kids who are growing up too fast. The smartest kid in each show, of course, wears glasses. Just once, I'd like to see the family dummy in glasses.

Unfortunately, neither show has "Roseanne's" laugh quotient.

Saturday's episodes do share a lot in common.

We met Carter's character, Nell Kirkland, in bed with her husband, Michael (Mosley).

We are reintroduced to Lenny, who had a brief fling on CBS this fall when three episodes aired, in bed alone, although his wife, Shelly (Lee Garlington), quickly joins him.

Both couples engage in conversation laced with double meaning and are designed to get viewers in the mood to relate to their own parenthood problems.

It's almost enough to make you long for the good old days when TV couples had to sleep in double beds.

Nell and Michael want to get away from their four kids for their first weekend alone in 17 years.

Lenny wants to get away from his three kids and the two jobs he holds on his one Saturday off in a month.

Of course, there are many obstacles in the way.

Nell's and Michael's problems include Nell's cantankerous mother, who treats her son-in-law like dirt; their 14-year-old daughter, who tries to attract boys by artificially augmenting her chest; and their 10-year-old son, who tries to augment the family income by making money off stolen stereos.

This show is as loud as acid rock and rings as phony as Milli Vanilli.

It is simple-minded and preachy, solving complex problems with instant answers that are more laughable than anything in the script.

In the first scene, the 10-year-old asked his father how much he earns as a school bus driver and then disparages Dad after he answers honestly.

Rather than being funny, it is just plain insulting.

The intelligence of senior citizens also is insulted. One running gag -- and there are a few in this show -- has Nell's mother believing Idi Amin and Eydie Gorme are related.

"You Take the Kids" has a charming cast that includes the very likable Mosley and Dante Beze, who plays the oldest son with the Milli Vanilli dreadlocked hair.

But you'll dread listening to the show's formula TV lines, many of which are just plain insulting to the show's audience.

"Kids" was co-created by Paul Haggis, a former "thirtysomething" writer-producer who last worked on Valerie Harper's anemic CBS comedy "City."

Rating: 1 star out of 5.

By comparison, Saturday's episode of "Lenny" is an Emmy-winner.

Imagine Ralph Kramden if he ever become a father, and you have "Lenny." His deadbeat brother is Lenny's Norton.

Lenny Callahan, a Boston Catholic who religiously follows the Celtics, had hoped to spend his day off watching a Celtics game on television, but serious issues keep bouncing his way.

His studious 10-year-old daughter is questioning the existence of God and his 13-year-old daughter has to explain why there's a condom in a wallet she has.

The humor comes from the double standard between what Lenny and his wife did as teen-agers and what he'd like his daughter to do. Clarke's considerable energy and charm make much of this cliched material work. And Garlington is terrific as his sensible wife.

Although this episode of "Lenny" also concludes with a preachy lecture, "Lenny" is written much better than "Kids."

In a sense, these shows also are guilty of having a double standard. They are using sexy issues to attract an audience and then balance the exploitation by giving unbelievable lectures.

I'd listen to Lenny lecture again, but I'd rather listen to Roseanne sing a duet with Eydie Gorme than watch "Kids" again.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

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