Variety, July 26, 1999

MTV tries too hard to offend with ``Undressed''

Undressed (Mon. (26), 11:00-11:30 p.m., MTV)

By Laura Fries

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - Not only is ``Undressed'' sure to knock ``Dawson's Creek'' off the top of conservatives' lists of most offensive shows, it is so chockful of sex, drinking and masturbation it will have folks pining for the good old days when female soccer players appeared on national television in their sports bras.

The only taboo not immediately shattered in this new series exec produced by film director Roland Joffe is recreational drug use, but then again, MTV provided only the first three episodes.

Series is a revolving door of characters and stories, all sexually charged, all exploring the various boundaries of relationships. It's as if MTV executives took a look at their most successful franchise, ``The Real World,'' and asked themselves: How can we use those escapades to spice up our fictional programming?

Take off any documentary-like pretenses, add more sexual escapades than the Playboy Channel, and you've got a teen-skewed version of ``Red Shoe Diaries,'' although graphic language and bare butts are as far as the show is able to go, given MTV's residence on basic cable.

Featuring characters that range in age from high schoolers to post-graduates, ``Undressed'' forgoes any formal introductions (here it would be considered foreplay) and jumps right into the action with three main story lines.

``Batteries Not Included'' involves Kiki (Sommer Knight) and Gina (Mimi Rose), college freshmen thrown together in the confines of a dorm room. Kiki has no qualms about having sex with one of her various conquests on the top bunk, while Gina struggles with the mechanics of a new vibrator.

``Look What the Kate Dragged In'' follows the sex life of college sweethearts transplanted from Minnesota to L.A. A mere six months into their relationship, Katie (Caroline Keenan) complains that excitement has worn off, and proposes an open relationship, much to Dave's (Nick Stabile) dismay.

``Er, Um, Love,'' the most realistic of the three stories, is a tender nod to the awkward ritual of teenage dating. Rory (Jeremy Maxwell) may or may not be officially dating Jana (Sam Doumit), his best friend's former girlfriend. And Jana may not or may be in love with Rory. Communication, not sex, is their biggest obstacle.

Like a kid after learning his first swear word, the writers overextend any generosity afforded a show dealing with sexual issues, and dialogue like ``Me so horny,'' quickly loses its novelty.

Amateurish acting, a dark set and gimmicky camera work by a bevy of directors only ads to the show's immature feel. The constant switching of stories also makes for big gaps in the space-time continuum. More selective editing by Louis Cioffi would lead to a less confusing time frame. Once the shock value has worn off and everyone stops trying so hard, ``Undressed'' has some potential to emerge as a template for interesting character studies.

For now, it's like watching a wet T-shirt contest at frat-house kegger. Enter at your own libido.

Rory ... Jeremy Maxwell

Jana ... Sam Doumit

Gina ... Mimi Rose

Kiki ... Sommer Knight

Katie .. Caroline Keenan

Dave ... Nick Stabile

Ollie .. Paul Levenhagen

Filmed in Los Angeles by MTV Networks. Executive producer, Roland Joffe; producer, Jeremiah Samuels; directors, Jamie Babbit, James Brett, Jonathon Buss, George Verschoor, Tiffanie DeBortollo, Chris Slater, Dale Roy Robinson; camera, Eric Haase, Uta Briesewitz, Mark Mervis, Shane Kelly; writers, David Silverman, Marcy Gray Rubin, Rick Bilzelberger, Dina M. Chapman, Tom Crehan, Steven S. DeKnight, Graham Flashner, Jennifer Johnson, Neil Landau; editor, Louis Cioffi; music, Brian Friedman; casting Pamela Azmi-Andrew.