By Leah Rozen
April 05, 1999 12:00 PM

Claire Danes, Omar Epps, Giovanni Ribisi, Josh Brolin

Bad trip. Bites. Whack. Whatever your era and whatever your slang, this new movie version of TV’s The Mod Squad stinks.

I’m personally bummed. When the TV drama about three undercover youthquake cops (starring Peggy Lipton, Clarence Williams III and Michael Cole) began airing way back in 1968, I loved The Mod Squad. Compared to such contemporaneous Maypo as Gomer Pyle and My Three Sons, it seemed hip and happening to my then pre-adolescent self. Wrong. After seeing the film, in which the trio (Danes, Epps and Ribisi) nail crooked cops in a barely comprehensible plot and display an energy level as flat as hair after a week without shampooing, I watched two episodes from the old TV show at Manhattan’s Museum of Television & Radio. Apart from Lipton’s fabulously long, flowing blond mane, the show was just as awful as the movie. Maybe worse. Williams and Cole were monosyllabic and the plot plodding. Perhaps, even if it had tried harder, the movie—in which only Danes, in Lipton’s role but with a shorter do, seems believable—couldn’t have been better. You can’t get something from nothing. (R)

Bottom Line: The Clod Squad is more accurate