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FOX's '$treet' hits creative dead end

Producer-writer Darren Star's sixth series, "The $treet," is his first to cover the long days and even longer nights of the Wall Street elite, but when it comes right down to it, his song remains the same.

"The $treet," FOX's three-episode-old serial, is best described as a light soap. Its largely interchangeable 10-person ensemble work for the fictional firm of Balmont Stevens, but seem to spend the majority of their time trading a different sort of commodity. Yep, these yuppies will swap romantic partners in a New York minute.

Chief among these sex-crazed stock traders are the savvy Jack Kenderson (Tom Everett Scott), former Navy SEAL Mark McConnell (Sean Maher), offensive chauvinist Freddie Sacker (Rick Hoffman), Wharton grad and current trainee Tim Sherman (Christian Campbell) and research analyst Adam Mitchell (Adam Goldberg).

"$treet" clearly caters to the boys' club. Bordering on the verge of misogyny, the amoral characters in "$treet" will use sex virtually any way they can to climb the corporate ladder, with no redeeming value, let alone any vaguely distinguishing virtue for audiences to latch onto.

Campbell (brother of another FOX favorite, Neve) has the character with the most promise, and as Tim learns the ropes of his field, the audience does too. We learn as he does, just as we did with Noah Wyle's John Carter on "ER." The pitfall here is that once Tim gets fully acclimated, his character will have nowhere to go without duplicating the already-redundant characteristics of his co-workers.

The other best male performance comes from Goldberg, whose Adam is a remarkably ironic caricature of a man completely detached from the line of work he has mastered.

There are a few women who make "$treet" a little sunnier: Alexandra Brill, a Harvard MBA investment banker - not to mention Jack's fiancee (Nina Garbiras); Donna Pasqua (Melissa De Sousa), a resourceful receptionist with high aspirations; and Catherine Miller (Jennifer Connelly), the new Vice-President of Sales. Connelly, who is currently enjoying lauds for the big-screen performance of her career in "Requiem For a Dream," is the only thing that really sizzles here as a no-nonsense executive anxious to leave her past behind.

"$treet" does benefit from comparison to another new show about the world of Wall Street, TNT's "Bull," which skimped in its depiction of investment banking. The show demonstrates an impressive amount of accuracy and detail when it does show its workers at work. One plot, about the late stages of an IPO, allowed viewers to see the eleventh-hour wrangling over price and distribution that goes on in such instances. Keep in mind, however, that this case was about a firm specializing in the sale of sperm and eggs of Ivy League graduates over the Internet, as if the writers are not capable of writing a serious story line without inserting a "tee-hee" or two in it.

The best long-running dramatic shows balanced pathos and comedy, work and play, without going overboard on either side. "$treet" seems destined to dive into water already made warm by "Ally McBeal," where professionals holding high-responsibility jobs obsess about sex all episode long, and, in their search for a turn-on, end up turning audiences off. "$treet" has potential, but it needs to get its mind out of the gutter.