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If you believe science fiction takes itself too seriously, "GvsE" is just the show for you.

Killer Laughs

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"GvsE"
USA Network
Episode 2 airs Sunday, July 25, at 8 p.m.
There are seven more episodes to follow, but air dates haven't been set.

The USA Network's "GvsE" — you can expand that to "Good Versus Evil" if you want to make sense of it — is a hoot and a half.

Forget "The X-Files" and "Millennium." Their legions of fans take these shows way too seriously, anyway. Instead, treat yourself to a new entry in the way-out-there sweepstakes and sample this new thriller that adds something decidedly different to the genre: big yuks. You'll find yourself laughing out loud — even if you're all alone.

In episode one, which aired last week, Chandler Smythe (Clayton Rohner) is murdered. But instead of going to heaven or that other place, Smythe finds himself in what looks like an ordinary office — except it's the headquarters of The Corps of the Almighty. He's been recruited as an undercover agent, and if he wants to go to heaven, he's got to play by the rules as outlined by Corps lieutenants Decker (Googy Gress) and Ford (Marshall Bell) and his assigned partner, Henry McNeil (Richard Brooks).

In his unusual afterlife job, Smythe's assignment is to enter the battle against the minions of evil. Specifically, Smythe, who's the serious one, and McNeil, who's the funny one, must seek out people who've made a Faustian bargain on Earth and decide whether to rehabilitate them or — if they can't save their souls — eliminate them.

Smythe's orientation, as is appropriate to the '90s, is handed to him on a videotape, which opens with a narrator saying "I'm here to teach you to whip Evil's ass!" But there are three rules. First, "no sex." Second, "no contact with former friends or relatives, who won't recognize you anyway." And third, "you are susceptible to dying." (That last one is a real bummer: a bizarre afterlife with no magic powers.) Smythe does get a special weapon, though — a knife "soaked in the blood of innocents."

Executive producer Paul Biddle (a University of Virginia grad) has created a slick new series in which the bizarre premise and the whacked-out plots are exceeded only by the hip "Mod Squad"-esque imagery and a hilarious, retro-1970s look. Not to mention the humor. For instance, tacked to the Corps' bulletin board is a list of the top 10 evil-mongers: including Orrin Hatch and Gavin McLeod. And another for instance: Smythe is assigned to the Hollywood Division, which has "more deals with the Dark per capita than anywhere on Earth."

Adding to the funky feel of "GvsE" is narration by former NFL star Deacon Jones and a really bad Afro wig for McNeil.

"GvsE" is not for everyone, and it's definitely not for you if you're much past the half-century mark. But if you're one of those viewers who believe that science fiction too often takes itself far too seriously, it's just what you've been waiting

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