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SHORT STILL DOESN’T GET IT

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In his 90-minute special tonight, Martin Short pokes plenty of fun at his own prime-time failure.

You may recall "The Martin Short Show," which featured Short as a sitcom husband and father who was also the star of a network variety show. The reviews were atrocious, the ratings disappointing, and NBC yanked it after only three episodes.Instead of making an attempt at a straight sketch-comedy show in prime time, Short instead is taking a shot at a late-night special (10:35 p.m., Ch. 2). But, despite all the jokes, in a teleconference with TV critics this week the comic demonstrated that he still doesn't quite get why he failed last fall.

"The problem with my show is that there was no problem with my show," Short told stunned critics who had almost universally gagged on his show. And he added that the critical reaction "was insane."

"I understand people saying that we don't want to see this guy skirting around with having a wife and kids. . . . But then they'd say, `The sketches are funny but still . . .' The sketches were 70 percent of the show and could stand up with anything I've done."

Actually, no they didn't. Being as generous as possible, maybe half of them were less than lame.

But even if every single sketch was a masterpiece, that 70 percent was still wrapped in garbage - which made the whole thing stink.

Tonight's special is an improvement. It's all sketches, and some of them are pretty funny. Others are clever. Others are just lame.

But it has a higher batting average than "Saturday Night Live" and is far less tasteless and vulgar.

However, the funniest thing is that Short still thinks his dreadful sitcom was mistreated by critics and the network. No show deserved cancellation more.

UPN TRIES AGAIN: If you thought "Star Trek: Voyager" was the only thing worth watching on pseudo-network UPN, you weren't alone. United Paramount programmers thought so, too - so they canceled everything else they had.

Of course, that wasn't much. Two sitcoms ("Pig Sty" and "Platypus Man") one action/comedy ("Legend") and one drama ("Marker"). In their places we'll see three dramas this fall:

- Nowhere Man (Monday, 9 p.m.): Bruce Greenwood stars as a photographer whose life becomes a mystery when everyone he knows - family and friends alike - profess not to know him.

- Deadly Games (Tuesday, 8 p.m.): A freak lab accident brings the characters in a video game to life - including one played by Christopher Lloyd.

- Live Shot (Tuesday, 9 p.m.): An ensemble drama set inside a television newsroom.

Despite the failure of five of the six shows it has programmed so far (the other was "The Watcher"), UPN still plans to add a third night of programming - Wednesdays - in March.

DISSING LIZ: Elizabeth Taylor won't like the two-part, four-hour "Liz," which airs on NBC Sunday and Monday (8 p.m., Ch. 2). She sued (and lost) in an attempt to keep it off the air.

Fans of Taylor's probably won't like it either, because it portrays her life as tawdry and vulgar. People who hate Taylor might enjoy it for those reasons.

But, overall, this is just one more pointless exercise in fact-based soap opera that's not worth the time you have to invest to sit and watch it.