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‘Miss’ is surprisingly sweet

But there isn’t much ‘Hope’ for new sitcom

SHARE ‘Miss’ is surprisingly sweet

Don't let the fact that "Miss Match" is the latest project from producer/writer Darren Star, creator of "Sex and the City" and "Melrose Place," throw you. This is a surprisingly sweet new show.

Alicia Silverstone ("Clueless") stars as Kate Fox in the new NBC series, which debuts Friday at 7 p.m. on Ch. 5. She's an up-and-coming attorney who works for her father's (Ryan O'Neal) firm. But she's conflicted about what they do — they're divorce lawyers, and they're very good at their jobs.

But perky Kate has a talent that runs counter to her job. She's a natural born matchmaker, able to spot people who would be perfect for each other. Which makes her divorce lawyer by day, matchmaker by night. And provides different stories (and different guest stars) each week, making the show a land-locked "Love Boat," in a way.

"Miss Match" is intended as light entertainment. And it is.

Hope & Faith (Friday, 8 p.m., Ch. 4): I know why ABC picked up this show — Kelly Ripa is a sitcom star-in-the-making. She's bright, bubbly and possesses a good deal of natural comedic ability.

But this may not be the show that makes her a sitcom star. It's pretty bad.

The premise is OK. Ripa, playing off her real-life resume, plays Faith, a soap-opera diva who's fired from her show and has no immediate prospects of employment. Having saved nothing, Faith is forced to move in with her sister, Hope (Faith Ford of "Murphy Brown"), a suburban housewife and mother.

The comedy comes from Faith — who doesn't exactly know how to navigate the real world — clashing with grounded Hope. And interacting with Hope's husband (Ted McGinley) and three children.

But it's not great comedy. When the comedy climax of your pilot episode is an extended food fight, where do you go from there?

Perhaps the biggest surprise in "Hope & Faith" is that, despite its trapping as a family sitcom and its position as a lynchpin of ABC's reconstituted, supposedly family friendly T.G.I.F. lineup, a lot of the jokes are of a sexual nature. A lot of the jokes.

Ripa is talented and Ford is great. Too bad the show isn't.

E-MAIL: pierce@desnews.com