June 05, 2000 12:00 PM

HBO (Sundays, 9:30 p.m. ET)

To put this in the appropriate jock-world parlance, Arli$$ is like a high draft choice who becomes an established starter but never fulfills his superstar potential. Beginning its fifth season, the sitcom about ever-hustling sports agent Arliss Michaels (series creator Robert Wuhl) still suffers from inconsistency.

In the June 4 season premiere, it’s a less cynical Arliss than usual, genuinely convinced that an old baseball client is worthy of the Hall of Fame .and innocent of alleged spousal abuse. The main plotline is well-handled, but a running gag involving voyeurism is a bit of bad taste from way out in left field.

The June 11 episode is similarly hit-and-miss. Wuhl earns big-league laughs when his character, in the grip of memorabilia madness, pays $27,000 for the wooden leg of departed baseball great Monty Stratton. Arliss even treats agency staffers to a dramatic précis of The Stratton Story with James Stewart. But the struggle of a recovering alcoholic golfer comes to a pat conclusion, and the business about a hypnotist who uses his patients for sexual gratification is so gross that it’s sure to leave many viewers slack-jawed.

Bottom Line: Win some, lose some

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