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TV Reviews : ‘House’: More Satirical Misses Than Hits

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Living up to its titular promise of irritation all too often is “House of Buggin’,” a new Fox sketch comedy show headlined by John Leguizamo that arrives nearly ready for a mercy insecticide.

Obviously conceived as a Latino-based (but broad-appealing, of course) successor to the late and occasionally great “In Living Color,” the new series strives mightily to be an equal-opportunity offender, and sporadically delivers on that count. But Sunday’s opening salvo comes up pretty short on both provocation and titters, with the usual post-"SNL” mix of painfully obvious social satire and tired stereotypes proffered as recurring characters.

What’s clear is that, as a comic, Leguizamo has all the manic energy and probably most of the skills of ethnic/social caricature necessary to carry off a show like this but, as one of two credited writers, still has an uneven ear for material.

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The half-hour starts off with its two most grueling sketches, “Illegal Alien Makeovers” (you’ve already done the jokes in your head by the time the skit catches up) and “The Kogi Show” (with Leguizamo entering Jerry Lewis territory as a grating Japanese talk-show host.

A brief filmed bit in the middle actually hits its satiric mark: “Crooks,” the natural reality-show counterpart to “Cops.” And a longer sketch about a hapless female lounge trio is shrill but spotlights some sharp comic timing, with Leguizamo quite a vision in full drag and guest star Rosie Perez adding some impetuous grace notes (the grace especially apparent since she’s mockingly impersonated at length by a cast member two skits earlier).

Leguizamo’s talents are combustible enough to be tapped on a weekly basis, and it looks from this glimpse as if he’s got a supporting cast that can keep up. But if the writing doesn’t pick up fast, “Buggin’ ” will have devolved from “it looked great on paper” status to flypaper fodder.

* “House of Buggin’ ” premieres at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on Fox (Channels 11 and 6). Also premiering on Fox Sunday are a new version of “Get Smart” (at 7:30 p.m.), which the network did not make available for review, and reruns of the HBO comedy “Dream On” (at 9:30 p.m.).


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