January 08, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

It’s that time of year again — you know, New Year’s — and I have a few TV-related pledges to make. I resolve to boycott Hyperion Bay until The WB puts new costar Carmen Electra in a red bathing suit and changes the title to Hyperion Baywatch. I resolve to watch at least one UPN show, because I believe that suffering can make you stronger. And I resolve to stop picking on Mad About You‘s Paul Reiser — it’s not polite to kick a guy when he’s down in the ratings (even if he is making $1 million an episode…not that I’m picking).

Perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve also got a few suggestions for New Year’s resolutions that various TV series might want to consider. Of course, nobody ever keeps resolutions beyond Jan. 2, but it’d be nice if these shows would at least try to break bad habits:

Newsradio should resolve to figure out who the hell Jon Lovitz’s character is supposed to be. Is new anchorman Max Lewis an oily operator? A pathetic loser? So far, Lovitz merely seems to be mixing up his old SNL shticks: a pinch of the Master Thespian here, a dash of the Liar there. No, that’s not the ticket.

Becker should resolve to spend less time in the doctor’s office. Fittingly, Cheers vet Ted Danson seems more comfortable hanging out at the local watering hole than he does healing the sick at his Bronx clinic. Plus, the sitcom’s most promising supporting characters are found at the diner: Terry Farrell’s sarcastic hash slinger and Alex Desert’s dryly witty blind newsstand operator.

Sports Night should resolve to cut out the ABC/Disney plugs. First, Felicity Huffman’s tough-gal producer discovered the magic of the theater after seeing The Lion King (it couldn’t have been Ragtime?). Then, the ladies of The View contributed a cross-promotional cameo. Quit it before honcho Robert Guillaume is replaced by Michael Eisner.

JAG should resolve to get Mac (Catherine Bell) out of her unflattering military getup as often as possible. Sure, Harm (David James Elliott) looks great in his dress-white uniform, but I’d much rather see Mac decked out in something that better accentuates Bell’s curves.

The Practice should resolve to do at least one episode in which one of the lawyers doesn’t feel guilty about being a lawyer. Maybe David E. Kelley thinks post-O.J. America will only sympathize with defense attorneys if they loathe themselves as much as we loathe them. But the self-lacerating speeches are wearing as thin as Lara Flynn Boyle.

Martial Law should resolve to cook up a romance for rotund leading man Sammo Hung. The freshman series offers loads of action and both physical and verbal comedy (much of the latter courtesy of welcome new costar Arsenio Hall). But Hung’s Sammo Law remains as celibate as a monk. If NYPD Blue‘s plus-size Dennis Franz can do love scenes, why can’t the equally well-rounded Hung?

Beverly Hills 90210 should resolve to get rid of Vincent Young’s Noah. Now that Luke Perry’s Dylan McKay is back on the show, there’s not enough room for two brooding rebels. With his spiky hairdo and hoarse whisper of a voice, Young suggests a mini Michael Madsen — and we get more than enough of him on ABC’s Vengeance Unlimited.

Felicity should resolve to buy Ben Covington (Scott Speedman) a pair of glasses. The guy is always squinting. Does he think this looks sexy? Then again, considering that Keri Russell’s title character can’t seem to decide between squirrelly Ben and dreamy resident adviser Noel (Scott Foley), maybe it’s Felicity who needs the specs.

Guinness World Records: Primetime should resolve to rethink its censorship policies. A recent installment featured footage of the upper portion of a severed female cadaver. But the images had been digitally altered so that you couldn’t see the corpse’s nipples. Guess that would have offended Guinness fans’ delicate sensibilities — yeah, like bare areolas are more disturbing than, say, a 303-pound tumor.

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