An amiable new sitcom from the Diane English camp features Robert Pastorelli as the chief of a low-rent NYC bicycle messenger service. Intended resemblance to previous hitcoms — especially “Taxi” and “Cheers”– is obvious. What the show lacks in originality though, it makes up for with a viewer-friendly cast of familiar types, if not faces.
One, a musician and potential rock star, Johnny Verona (Pastorelli), has spent the past 20 years in the messenger ranks, now owning his own outfit, dubbed “Double Rush” (the term means faster than “rush” service and billable as such).
The current staff includes a bunch of lovable misfits — daredevil Hunter (David Arquette); naive Leo (Adam Goldberg); young, black, family man Marlon (D.L. Hughley); 75-year-old messenger “The Kid” (Phil Leeds); and cynical dispatcher Barkley (Sam Lloyd).Into this established crew walks perky blonde Zoe (Corinne Bohrer), a flighty, neurotic Harvard business school grad who’s having trouble finding a job. It’s as if Diane Chambers had walked into this place instead of a Boston bar. Bohrer plays her well enough, but it’s been done, definitively.
Richard Portnow appears in the recurring role of Ed Foley, shady owner of a competing — and more successful — messenger service.
Bulk of the debut episode is devoted to setting up the situation and defining characters, with Zoe’s arrival and a race between Double Rush and Foley’s crew serving as plotlines.
Script, by show’s creators Stephen Nathan and English, packs a lot of exposition into 22 minutes without seeming too cramped under Michael Lembeck’s canny direction.
Pastorelli is a strong peg upon which to hang a series and cast members hold their own — though the current timeslot opposite “Roseanne” looks less like a showcase than a (brief) sentence.