January 27, 1997 12:00 PM

HBO (check local listings)


An extraordinary comic actress, Tracey Ullman gets ample room to show off her versatility in this half-hour sketch series, now in its second season of 15 episodes. Ullman has a seemingly endless inventory of characters and voices, including a has-been TV actress named Linda Granger (star of VIP Lounge), an Asian woman who runs a doughnut shop and a Middle Eastern male cabbie. But Ullman may be too versatile for her own good. She races through so many faces and the sketches are often so brief that the effect can be like watching a slot machine. There’s one great creation, though: Ruby Romaine, a chain-smoking, beehive-headed makeup lady from Hollywood’s golden age. She’s a tough old bird, fazed by nothing. She doesn’t bat an eye when an extraterrestrial, who has abducted her in what looks like an Airstream trailer, gives her first an alien cocktail and then an erotic massage. She downs the drink, then wriggles happily as his long green fingers race up and down her body. Give Ruby a special.

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