Oh, how I wanted Absolutely Fabulous to live up to its advance word of mouth as England's funniest, most scandalous new sitcom. Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley star as two pals who have glamorous jobs in the fashion industry. They're children of the '60s who've aged into boozing, drugging, promiscuous women; we are supposed to be gigglingly appalled as these chatty harridans smoke dope and discuss the benefits of colonic irrigation (''Nothing to be sneezed at,'' says Saunders' Edina).
Once past its shock concept, however, Ab Fab (as its overseas fans call it) simply doesn't have the punchlines to match the wonderfully over-the-top performances of Saunders and Lumley. C+