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'EMERIL' REDUX IS NO SAUCIER DESPITE FAT JOKES

The new, supposedly improved second pilot of NBC's "Emeril" (8 tonight, Channel 2) is even lamer than the original one that was declared a mess by just about every critic who saw it.

Called "Fat," the new episode finds cable television's favorite chef, Emeril Lagasse, and a couple of heavyweights on the staff of his fictional show engaging in a diet competition. There are several weight jokes and sight gags, as well as some bloated dialogue about America's obsession with weight by creator Linda Bloodworth.

Robert Urich was added to the cast, weighed down with the role of Emeril's meathead agent, Jerry. The big comic moment occurs when he and Lagasse appear to have shaved their heads. Don't ask. The material is so thin that the episode really should have been called "Fat Chance."

And did I mention that Lagasse's acting is gaseous? NBC plans to air the original pilot some time -- if the series lasts long enough.

Rating: 1 1/2 stars out of 4

"Emeril" debuts opposite a more tasty season premiere of Fox's popular Tuesday comedy, "That '70s Show" (8 tonight, Channel 29). The opener is an amusing take-off on "It's a Wonderful Life" in which Eric (Topher Grace) imagines his life if he had never kissed or dated Donna (Laura Prepon).

Wayne Knight, who appears to have lost a few pounds since he played Newman on "Seinfeld," acts as the angel who takes Eric back to his past and ahead to the 1980s.

The look ahead is much funnier than the look back. The idea of the class clown, Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), becoming a TV newsman certainly makes sense to anyone who believes anchors are superficial.

I won't tell you any more, except to say that Fez falls in love -- with disco.

Rating: 3 stars

"Undeclared" (8:30 p.m., Channel 29) might be a smart fit with "That '70s Show," but it is hardly a laugh riot.

Created by Judd Apatow ("Freaks and Geeks"), it makes one nostalgic for one's college days. The lead character, Steven Karp (Jay Baruchel), is a bit of a dweeb who can't wait to enjoy the freedom of staying up late (well, until 11 p.m anyway) and doing other things he'd never do under his parents' roof. Unfortunately, his dad, Hal (Loudon Wainwright), just won't go away. He comes for a visit and never leaves.

Like "Freaks and Geeks," "Undeclared" is an exceptionally cast show that is more clever and smart than it is funny.

Down the road, Adam Sandler -- a friend of Apatow's -- visits the fictional college and is given the celebrity treatment. Unfortunately, Sandler plays himself and not the goofy and funny characters that have made him rich.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars

e-mail: apergament@buffnews.com

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