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Terrible ‘Twins’

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — People who work in TV often say they don't watch TV, and I'm inclined to believe them.

How else could you explain the stars of the new WB sitcom "Twins" saying that they were just dying to work on the show because it's being written and produced by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, the creators of "Will & Grace"?

Mark Linn-Baker ("Perfect Strangers") said he took the job because of "the chance to work with these guys." Sara Gilbert said, "I signed on just with them." Melanie Griffith said she was attracted to the project because of "Max and David."

Surely none of them ever saw an episode of "Will & Grace" after the second season, when it stopped being funny and degenerated into one long stream of tasteless vulgarities.

"Twins" doesn't have to degenerate. This alleged comedy about very different twin sisters (Gilbert and Molly Stanton) who take over the family lingerie business from their parents (Linn-Baker and Griffith) employs the phrase "butt pucker" 15 times in the first 35 seconds. Really.

The premise is that Mitchee (Gilbert) is smart; her twin sister, Farrah (Stanton), is hot and stupid; their father, Alan, is smart; their mother, Lee, is hot and stupid. Ha, ha.

Maybe the cast members do watch TV . Maybe they just don't know bad TV when they see it.

"I thought the script was fantastic," Griffith said, and her castmates all mentioned what great writing "Twins" has.

This would be the script that included Lee asking Farrah, "Did you spray Aquanet on your (butt) before you put your panties in place?" "Yes, it made my butt look shiny and smooth like a nectarine," Sarah replies.

This would be the script that included Sarah's wisdom: "What matters is — do you look hot? Do guys want to sleep with you?" Do girls want to be you?"

And then there's Lee's description of giving birth to the twins: "It was like pooping two watermelons."

We should all follow the example of people who make TV shows and just not watch this one.

IT ALMOST ALWAYS comes down to the writing in a TV series. But there are times when an actor is so much better than his material that he alone is worth watching.

Which is the case with "Just Legal" (Monday, 8 p.m., WB/Ch. 30) — although it's not the better known of the show's two stars who leaps off the screen.

Oh, Don Johnson is fine as the jaded, morally corrupt attorney who's down on his luck in this comedic hour. But it's Jay Baruchel ("Undeclared") who makes the show work. The 23-year-old stars as David "Skip" Ross, an 18-year-old legal prodigy who has graduated from law school and passed the bar. But "real" firms aren't interested in hiring a teenage lawyer, so he ends up teaming up with Grant Cooper (Johnson), who has fallen on hard times.

The two of them — the bright-eyed idealist and the cynical alcoholic — work out of a run-down office in Venice Beach.

The material in Monday's pilot isn't bad, it's just familiar. But you're rooting for Baruchel from the get-go. You can't help but like the goofy, endearing quality he has. The WB would be wise to make him the focus of their promotion for "Just Legal" — most of their viewers don't remember Johnson's 1996-2001 series "Nash Bridges" and a lot of them weren't born when his 1984-89 series "Miami Vice" made him a TV star.

The 55-year-old actor said he was considering retirement before "Just Legal" came along. If the WB shows some patience with this show — which faces tough competition on Monday nights — he might have to put that off for a while.

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com