About half way into "Bay Coven," what NBC is miscalling "a thriller about modern witchcraft," the central character remarks, "Someone's playing a very bad joke on us."

Indeed, a bad joke is being played--on the TV screen. And anyone foolish enough to still be watching this unintentionally hilarious highlight reel of scary-movie cliches and photographic gimmickry will get it (Sunday at 9 p.m. on Channels 4, 36 and 39).

Linda Lebon (ex-"Dynasty" star Pamela Sue Martin) is a yuppie lawyer with a yippy yuppie dog and a yuppie hubby Jerry (Tim Matheson). Jerry's lost the yuppie faith because he's discovered he has too many suits and not enough callouses, so the pair ditch their Boston yuppie loft for a timeless manse on remote Devlin Island.

The Devlin Islanders, including Beaver Cleaver's mom Barbara Billingsly as Beatrice, can't help it if they're all weirdos--they're witches who 300 years ago traded their souls to the Devil for immortality. But the extreme close-ups and the spooky backlighting that follows the witches around makes them look like sinister versions of Ernest P. Worrell, the goofy rubber-faced alter ego of comedian Jim Varney.

You'd think Linda the lawyerette, who's got to be the dumbest TV lawyer since Perry Mason's hapless opponent Hamilton Burger, would wake up and smell the evidence and head back to Yuppieville. Especially after her mainland pal Slater (Woody Harrelson of "Cheers") goes off a cliff backwards in a runaway jeep (a soaring slow-motion spectacular so prolonged it's a parody) and her increasingly estranged mate Jerry starts burning up all of his old baseball cards.

But no. Stupid Linda is too busy changing into yet another low-cut outfit to show off her cute bare shoulders.

"Bay Coven's" music is bad, its dialogue is dumb, its story line is silly. It's an unintentional spoof of itself, written by R. Timothy Kring and produced by Michael Rhodes. The only reason to watch it is for the laughs.

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