Taped at Warner Hollywood Studios by Fair Dinkum, Reserve Room Prods., Touchstone TV. Exec producers, Marc Lawrence, Henry Winkler; supervising producer, Katie Ford; producer, Ana Krewson; writer/creator, Lawrence; director, James Burrows; Henry Winkler returns to series sitcomville as an unrestrained, far-right-wing Long Island cable talkshow host who is married to an open-minded wife and the father of two sons. Writer/creator Marc Lawrence, longtime scripter for “Family Ties,” draws on standard liberal and conservative lines, so there are few surprises.
NBC, which carried the Winkler project on its development slate last year, finally passed on it last spring. Fox reportedly then ordered 13 episodes for its primetime lineup.
Monty Richardson (Winkler) does just fine at the TV studio as he shoots snide remarks about immigrants, environmentalists and, of course, Democrats. At home, he struts while his school-teaching wife, Fran (Kate Burton), tries keeping the peace. Their 14-year-old son David (David Krumholtz) slings out wry comments. Pre-law son Greg (David Schwimmer), just back from Europe, announces he’s brought home free-spirited Geena (China Kantner) and is going to become a vegetarian chef, both of which chaff Monty.
Best segs are at the studio. Monty’s caustic black producer, Rita (Joyce Guy) , reads while he talks on the air, and an 11-year-old guest (Thora Birch), pleading for animal rights, ably stings the host. Monty’s hackneyed announcer (Tom McGowan, who resembles Rush Limbaugh) doesn’t carry much comedy weight. Director James Burrows manages to find funny moments among the cliches, and the pacing is good. Winkler’s Monty is a one-note character, though he gets off a couple of good, quick remarks. Burton’s spunky and assured as Fran. Schwimmer and Krumholtz are acceptable as the sons, while Kantner suitably plays the blatant Geena. Young Birch self-assuredly grabs her few moments and runs with them.