Preview of the new Hal Linden-Suzanne Pleshette series about a middle-aged couple freed at last when their third and last son flies the coop proves disappointing, though an occasional line or idea hits the bull’s eye; it’ll take more than that to pull it through.
Major problem arises right off the bat with the Pleshette-Linden mismatch; as devoted Jackie and Fred Hansen they don’t jell.
The setup, too, isn’t much help: with their three grown sons gone, with Fred ecstatic and Jackie in the dumps, the inevitable occurs: The older two birds fly back to the nest to make a sitcom. How much more challenging it would have been to have the deserted parents grow into individuals.
Exec producer/writer/creator Matthew Carlson has cooked up an eccentric household to keep things at a slow boil. Weak son Mike (George Newbern) has lost his job, and he, wife Judy (Bess Meyer) and their two obstreperous wee ones, seeking refuge, move in with all their excruciatingly politically correct awarenesses.
The wife of oldest son Rick (Kevin Crowley), a neurotic, alcoholic police detective, has rightfully booted him out; he’s back for shelter.
Linden looks distraught, drops hoary pearls like “When people need to talk they talk; when people say they need to talk, they need money!” and retreats to a boat he has in the yard. Pleshette, whose sophisticated style almost brings off Carlson’s thin material, gives the comedy a boost with her presence. Newbern’s Mike and Crowley’s Rick need more exposure; Meyer’s Judy may be the sitcom’s real comic entry.
Concept of three generations under the same roof is hardly new, but the working of it should be. Director James Burrows uses the oddities of the characters with a fine hand.
CBS “previews” the pilot Sunday and airs it again in the series’ assigned timeslot at 8 p.m. Wednesday, following it with another seg. First real episode might make the difference.