Henry Winkler returns to series sitcomville as an unrestrained, far-right-wing Long Island cable talkshow host with an open-minded wife and two sons. Writer/creator Marc Lawrence, longtime scripter for “Family Ties,” draws on standard liberal/conservative lines, so there are few surprises.
NBC, which carried the Winkler project on its development slate last year, passed on it last spring. Fox reportedly then ordered 13 segs 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 to keep 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 irk Monty.
Monty (and Lawrence) now have their in-house antagonist. Geena’s an actress, hairdresser, writer and vegetarian, and sports a nose ring, all solid dartboards for Monty. He shoots off his vulgarities and insults at her, but his ammunition’s surprisingly dry.
Best segs are at the studio, where Monty’s caustic producer, Rita (Joyce Guy) , reads while he talks on the air and an 11-year-old guest (Thora Birch) ably stings the host. The hackneyed announcer (Tom McGowan) doesn’t carry much comedy weight.
Director James Burrows finds funny moments among the cliches, and pacing is good.
Winkler’s Monty is a one-note character, though he gets off a couple of good, quick remarks. Burton is 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.