CBS unspools a glimpse of the new Faye Dunaway-Robert Urich comedy series in a prime slot following “60 Minutes” (series is slated for Fridays, 8-8:30 p.m.), enough to show it’s a frigid-Tiffany-lady-and-the-working-stiff format backed by a hearty laugh track. A glimpse should be enough.
Dunaway plays successful, exacting Boston publisher Laura Scofield, burying herself in her work. Urich is Mitch Quinn, widowed carpenter who comes to her office to build shelves. Laura’s lofty manner is counterbalanced by the smarmy remarks of her aggressively frustrated secretary, Eve (Robin Bartlett), about Mitch, an ample hunk who doesn’t demonstrate why all of Laura’s femme staff trails headily after him.
Mitch is amused by Laura’s sophisticated manner. Obviously attracted to one another — it’s not a new formula — they exchange lumpish badinage before he has her standing on her head to cure her hiccups. That ice-breaker, whipped on by David Steinberg’s frantic direction and the thin John Steven Owen-Andrew Nicholls-Darrell Vickers script, leads to Laura meeting Mitch’s three sons at his house.
After a primitive-but-funny sight gag, oldest son David (Justin Whalin) has a likable moment of truth with Laura, but Dunaway’s Laura doesn’t stick around; the writers have her ankle the scene, killing whatever potential there might have been.
If the intro between the two principals is this forced, the series is in trouble. Dunaway plays at Laura, a Lady Bountiful in need; Urich is the comfortable Mitch, playing along with good, if slightly embarrassed, grace.
Laura, Mitch and the whole gang need stronger writers, including one who doesn’t think “there hasn’t been a famous carpenter since Noah.”