'Dot Comedy' Fails to Blend Wit, Internet

TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

What happens when unfunny TV comedy and unfunny Internet comedy intersect in prime time? MPEGs (videos) or JPEGS (photos), it isn't pretty.

That's the scenario for "Dot Comedy," half an hour of "wild, creatively rich material of the World Wide Web" that ABC is giving a post-sweeps shot on Friday nights. The grandiose quotes, issued by the network, surely don't fit the conventionally lowbrow premiere, which is closer to NBC's "Real People" of the late '70s and early '80s--which mostly smirked at goofy subcultures it introduced--than to the promised innovation from gifted directors, animators and writers.

"Dot Comedy" speaks the distinctive language of Webspeak, but not fluently enough to disguise its banal wit, which may be too sophomoric even for the young audience it targets. Tonight it visits a guy whose Web site features his Sickness Bag Virtual Museum and a camera-posing narcissist who offers himself to Interneters as a snarling hunk, both presumably on the level.

The point, made not very humorously, is that they should get a life. As should "Dot Comedy." With brothers Randy and Jason Sklar as hosts and Annabelle Gurwitch as second banana, this is about as lame.com as TV gets.

* "Dot Comedy" premieres tonight at 8:30 on ABC. The network has rated it TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children).

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