Hope Richardson (Cynthia Stevenson) and Gloria Utz (Jessica Lundy) live in a Pittsburgh brownstone; they meet, just in time for the first episode, in the building’s laundry.
They are so unlike each other, it’s a cinch — this being a very conventional sitcom — that they’ll be fast friends by the time the end titles roll.
Shy and flighty, Hope has been married for 10 years and produces a local TV talkshow. Blond, brassy Gloria has been married twice to the same guy (from whom she’s separated again) and works as a beautician.
Whaddya know, Hope is looking for someone to sub for show’s hairdresser, who will be absent the next day. Even though this has happened several times, she has no standby lined up, so she offers the job to her new acquaintance.
“Hope & Gloria” is divided between domestic and work environments. TV show is hosted by Dennis Dupree, a loud, vain and, um, somewhat thick host portrayed by Alan Thicke, in the Ted Knight role. As producer, Gloria is as put-upon as Mary Richards was during her first couple of seasons at WJM.
Back home, Hope and her philandering hubby (Jeff Orlandt) have split, and she attaches herself to somewhat reluctant new best friend Gloria. Latter has problems of her own, raising 5-year-old Sonny (Robert Garrova) while putting up with lovable ex-hubby Louis (Enrico Colantoni).
Stevenson and Lundy are appealing actors, saddled here with limp material — though a few lines shine through, including Gloria’s unlikely allusion to Greek mythology: “Instead of pushing a rock up a hill or getting my liver pecked out by a bird, I just keep getting married to Louis Utz.”
Louis, on the other hand, gets no better verbal ammo than to describe her as “squirrel food.” Colantoni is OK in stereotyped role, while Thicke overplays a character that’s been done definitively elsewhere.
Overall look of “Hope & Gloria” is slick, and studio audience seems to be having such a good time that it might be watching another show. Or, perhaps, recalling “Cheers” and “Bob,” which were both original and funny instead of just pleasant.