October 06, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

You might be a redneck — at least in spirit — if you like The Jeff Foxworthy Show. Frankly, I can’t come up with any other explanation for this dim new sitcom’s fast break out of the ratings gate. It’s Foxworthy’s homespun cornpone of a stand-up act that got him this job. But unlike Roseanne’s and Brett Butler’s TV vehicles, little of Foxworthy’s show seems tailored to the strengths of its star; he is more like this season’s Margaret Cho — a smart comic trapped in a stupid show.

Foxworthy plays the owner of Foxworthy Heating and Air-Conditioning; he’s married (to Anita Barone) and has a 7-year-old son (Haley Joel Osment). In the show’s Sept. 12 preview, lines from his club act were shoved awkwardly into the dialogue. Son asks, ”Dad, what’s a redneck?” Foxworthy grins and launches into a litany of punchlines like ”If somebody takes their dog for a walk and they both use the tree at the corner, they might be a redneck.”

I’m not sneering at Foxworthy’s humor — I can understand why lots of folks appreciate its clean, goofy charm. No, it’s the lack of any funniness apart from Foxworthy’s jokes that makes the show so tedious. Foxworthy’s going to exhaust his act pretty quickly; the show’s writers had better work on giving him a sitcom personality, and on giving Barone a real role as his wife. C

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