The series’ new timeslot, following freshman series “Double Rush” (also out of the Shukovsky-English factory), pits “Love & War” against “Ellen.” It’s going to take more than is provided by Jonathan Tunick’s newly souped-up mock-Gershwin theme music to energize this likable series out of its present third-season complacency.
Best sequences in co-executive producer Ian Praiser’s script feature Joel Murray, Joanna Gleason and (in Part II) Sid Caesar, who plays the father of Jay Thomas’ character, Jack Stein.
Wearing some extra padding, eyeglasses and with his hair slicked back, Murray portrays the father of his usual character, trash collector Ray Litvak. After accidentally bringing young Ray (Klee J. Bragger) to a showing of “Carnal Knowledge,” Mr. Litvak is forced to explain to his son the facts of life. “First you take all your clothes off, then the woman makes fun of you …”
Gleason’s Nadine Berkus recalls bringing her young children (Zachary Duhame, Danielle Judovitz) to the Pantheon, escaping to the ladies’ room for a minute’s solace and finding a sympathizer (Dee Dee Rescher) with a solution for Nadine’s rattled nerves: “a big old, fat, hand-rolled doobie.” A few puffs later, Nadine has cleaned out the snack bar.
The good news about Caesar’s brief appearance is that he’s in good comedic and dramatic form, as he and Jack fail to communicate as father and son; bad news is that he probably won’t be coming back: Stein’s father died some years back.
Other regulars — Suzie Plakson, Charlie Robinson, Michael Nouri and Annie Potts — have individual recollections, though not as interesting as the above-mentioned.