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'Duckman' may just be quacky enough to make it


The "Duckman" cometh, at 10:30 tonight on cable channel USA.

It seems like everybody's trying to find "the next Simpsons" -- that hip, animated, adult comedy series that's going to work both as a cartoon and a parody of cartoons.

L Remember Steven Spielberg's "Family Dog" on CBS -- arf, arf?

ABC was the most recent outfit to think it had found the formula with "The Critic," which was created by some of the folks connected with "The Simpsons."

ABC was wrong, and "The Critic" is on hiatus. Only its most fervent fans can hope for it to come back.

Tonight, USA trots out its version with "Duckman," which is also created by some of the producers connected with "The Simpsons."

"Duckman" has a shot. It's weird-going-on-bizarre, has lots of hip, pop culture references, mocks itself continually and occasionally makes you laugh. It also has Jason Alexander, from "Seinfeld," as the voice of Duckman.

The Duckman is not an easy character to describe. He's a duck, of course. He looks a lot like Daffy Duck, except he's yellow instead of black. He's also a private eye who's not doing very well and loses it from time to time in full blown tirades against the gods.

His wife died a year ago, but she left the house to her sister and mother. The sister and mother -- one's consumed with health and the other with flatulence -- let Duckman live with them because of the three kids from Duckman's marriage. Two of the kids are Siamese twins who engage in endless philosophical debates and ignore their dad.

At first, it seems like everybody thinks Duckman's a loser -- a sort of Homer Simpson with feathers. But, like Homer, Duckman has his good moments, sort of.

In tonight's pilot, someone's sending Duckman bombs in the mail, and he thinks it's the cannibalistic serial killer he sent to prison. Think "Silence of the Lambs."

I think the prison scene featuring a "gang fight" between white collar criminals -- the Insider Traders vs. the Security Fraud Gang -- is one of the funnier pieces of social satire this side of Homer and Bart.

Is it "the next Simpsons"? One funny episode does not a "Simpsons" make. But it's a promising start for the quack private eye.

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