Don't let the fact that the new Fox sitcom "Living in Captivity" comes to us from the producers of "Murphy Brown" fool you. Everything that "Murphy Brown" was, "Living in Captivity" isn't.
Like funny. Or witty. Or amusing. Or thought-provoking. Or smart. Or entertaining in any fashion whatsoever."Murphy Brown" at its worst was still about a thousand times better than "Living in Captivity," which debuts Friday at 7 p.m. on Ch. 13.
The new show is set in a suburb where all the houses are the same and, apparently, most of the people are idiots. The show's most distinctive character is Carmine Santucci (Lenny Venito), whom Fox publicists describe as "somebody who can make Al Bundy blush." Just what television needs.
When a black couple moves in next door, Carmine asks his wife, "You hear that? That's the sound of our property values dropping 20 percent."
That black couple, Curtis and Tamara Cook (Dondre T. Whitfield and Kira Arne), isn't exactly thrilled with Carmine. He has a black lawn jockey on his front lawn and talks to Curtis about how things are different than they are in the 'hood.
"I'm sure you probably know a lot about the 'hood," Curtis says. "I'm sure you have a big, white pointy one hanging in your closet."
The third couple, Will and Becca Marek (Matt Letscher and Melina McGraw), are the liberal white folks - he's an aspiring writer and she's a lawyer. But they aren't quite as liberal as they'd like to think.
Carmine's wife, Lisa (Mia Cottet), is sort of a blond bimbo, but at least she does want to go to college. What she sees in Carmine is somewhat of a mystery - although, in the second episode, we learn in nauseating detail about their sex lives.
Actually, we learn in nauseating detail about all of the characters' sex lives. It's excessively, mouth-droppingly crude, even for Fox. And we see more of Carmine than anyone would ever want to.
"Do you have any idea what it's like getting up in the morning and seeing him in his driveway in his shorty bathrobe and his black socks bending over to pick up the paper?" Curtis asks in the first episode.
Actually, viewers get the idea in the second episode. It opens with all the neighbors in their front yards after a minor earthquake - and Carmine neglects to wear his pants. He stands their slightly covered by the tiny apron his wife wraps around him.
It may be the scariest scene on TV this year.
All that vulgarity is not even balanced by any degree of humor. "Living in Captivity" just isn't funny.
The level of humor here is such that one of the big "laughs" comes when Will, commenting on Carmine, says, "Wow, I'm defending the man who once crapped on my lawn because my dog crapped on his."
English, her husband/partner Joel Shukovsky and executive producer/writer Tom Palmer ought to be ashamed. And there's some hint that they might be at least a bit embarrassed.
"There was a point where we stepped back and we said, `Oh my (gosh), can you believe how many times someone said `crap' in this show?' Should we take some out?' " English said.
Slightly embarrassed, but unrepentent.
"I have to confess, it became sort of like a thing for us - how many times can we say it?" English added. "It's probably very immature and very juvenile, but when you've just come from CBS, you've got to cut us some slack."
Unfortunately, that comment was far more clever than anything in "Living in Captivity."