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Forget Affirmative Action in higher education the real issue activists should concern themselves with is segregation on television. Outside of the UPN and the WB, the only programs featuring a predominantly black cast are “My Wife And Kids” on ABC and now “The Bernie Mac Show” on FOX, starring, surprisingly enough, Bernie Mac.

Paul Wong
Bernie Mac back in the day of low life standup.<br><br>Courtesy of FOX

The second to last of the “Original Kings of Comedy” to get his own show (Steve Harvey is on the eponymous show on the WB, D.L. Hughley is on the UPN”s equally creatively named show “The Hughleys” and Cedric the Entertainer”s WB sitcom entitled “Cedric The Coach” is a mid-season replacement), “Bernie Mac” features the entertainer playing himself a famous comedian. I don”t know about you, but when a show features actors playing themselves I have serious doubts about acting ability. Thankfully Bernie Mac sticks to what he knows best.

The pilot starts with the comedian taking in his sister”s three kids after she is sent to jail. The jokes are, obviously, based around how Bernie is suddenly thrust into the role of father something he has zero experience in.

The cast is generally good and helps compensate for Mac”s inexperience. Kellita Smith plays Bernie”s wife Wanda, who is committed to her job as Vice President of AT&ampT, which the audience is made aware of when we see her BMW 330ci convertible and its vanity plate “ATT VP.” Nice car, nice touch. Probably the most telling line in the whole show is when Wanda says to the youngest girl Byana (Dee Dee Davis) on whether she can play with her, “Your aunt Wanda works for AT&ampT and she can”t go up and miss. They don”t play that.” Because of her dedication to her work, it falls to Mac to interact with the children, who are played rather well by the young performers.

Camille Winbush plays the oldest, Vanessa, whose character isn”t too much different, at least so far, than Jennifer Nicole Freeman”s Claire Kyle on “My Wife And Kids.” Jeremy Suarez”s Jordan is a bed-wetting, pre-asthmatic, annoying and whiny middle brother, and Bryana is just adorable as the baby of the family.

The show does have some flaws. For one, the characters talk directly to the camera too much in the pilot. It is almost like they are trying to make the show look like a reality program with all the mini-interview bits.

They also use the telestrator, common to televised sports, to get their point across a lot, from pointing out who”s on the phone to where the crumbs are that Bernie”s dropping all over his car. These two devices can get annoying real quick.

The writing in “Bernie Mac” is strong, and the characters are promising. It is nice that there is finally another predominantly black sitcom, aside from those on the WB. Hopefully viewers will catch on to the quality of the sitcom and it will stick around a while.

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