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Wild Oats

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In the new series Wild Oats (Fox, Sept. 4, 9:30-10 p.m.) Fox continues its genial obsession with sitcoms featuring unknown telegenic young actors playing telegenic young characters living single and looking for love in ways that bear little relationship to life as we know it. In this variation, set, arbitrarily, in Chicago, nice, dull guy Brian (Paul Stephen Rudd) and obnoxious, party guy Jack (Tim Conlon) are best friends and roommates who are both romantically interested in Jack’s old girlfriend Shelly (Paula Marshall, familiar to Seinfeldians as the student reporter who thought Jerry was gay). Shelly is conflicted-she likes Brian but she’s also got a thing for Jack-so between romantic skirmishes with each, she waffles out loud with her man- obsessed best friend, Liz (Jana Marie Hupp, a Sarah Jessica Parker look- alike).

I can’t imagine how this one-note premise can sustain itself beyond the premiere episode-already the charms of ambivalence and commitment-phobia are wearing thin and already one character has referred to Beavis and Butt-head- the telltale symptom of exhaustion among comedy writers. Also, speaking of ’90s realities, these sowers of Wild Oats are obsessed with sex-more specifically, with scoring-in a ’70s-ish galaxy untouched, apparently, by AIDS. Conversation abounds about lip-locking, tongue-hockey, who’s good in bed, and the relative merits of Doing It on a first date; not content with those, Jack celebrates the joys of anonymous sex. Sitting in a singles’ hangout waiting to pick up two giggling, bosomy Eastern European bimbo sisters, he describes the bar admiringly to his shy buddy as a place for ”horny losers chumming for nasty.” I couldn’t have nailed this series better myself. D-