In Living Color: Season 5

It’s pretty sad to watch one of the most bravely innovative sketch comedies ever limp into its final season as banal television. The early seasons of In Living Color are an obvious influence on the best work of MAD TV and Chappelle’s Show. By season five, however, the In Living Color that Keenen Ivory Wayans had created was stripped of the majority of its strongest cast members and its incisive handling of race relations as fodder for humour had been virtually neutralised. Without Keenen and brother Damon, the show lost some of its most reliable and edgy characters, leaving room for no-name rookies to stumble about in sub-SNL routines. A veteran like David Alan Grier thrives in sketches as the somewhat funny "Loomis Simmons” and he and Tommy Davidson reprise their roles as irritating hucksters "the B.S. Brothers.” On the cusp of Ace Ventura fever, Jim Carrey gives everything he can to the show’s lame sketches but even his "Fire Marshall Bill” grows tiresome quickly. Future Oscar winner Jamie Foxx never really came up with any satisfying recurring characters on In Living Color (his "Ugly Woman” is a one-joke dead horse) but he’s amusing in utility roles (i.e., "Ace,” the belligerent security staffer to the stars), where he often plays dolts whose pride makes them oblivious to their idiocy. Guest stars such as Thomas Hearns, Tupac Shakur and Chris Rock are welcome additions but their star power clearly didn’t inspire the show’s writers to come up with anything special. Remember, this was the age of Tonya Harding and John Wayne Bobbitt — a banner period for easy comedy and lazy minds. Rather than transcending the obvious, In Living Color goes out as just another lowbrow, rarely humorous show. (Fox)