Review: ‘If Not for You’

CBS rings the sitcom bell with "If Not For You," adelightfully produced romantic written by co-exec producer Larry Levin. With Elizabeth McGovern and Hank Azaria falling for each other even though each is engaged to someone else, the smart storytelling doesn't flag; it's a classy show.

CBS rings the sitcom bell with “If Not For You,” adelightfully produced romantic written by co-exec producer Larry Levin. With Elizabeth McGovern and Hank Azaria falling for each other even though each is engaged to someone else, the smart storytelling doesn’t flag; it’s a classy show.

Jessie Kent (McGovern), who’s producing audio books at a Minneapolis studio, sits at the table next to Craig Schaeffer (Hank Azaria), a record producer at the same studio. Both are with their finances and exchange a glance. Or two. Next day, they bump into each other and she tries to stick to her guns, but he wants to see her alone. She waffles, of course, but it’s strictly honorable — and they fall.

Their intendeds (Peter Krause, Jane Sibbett) are solid characters. But Jessie and Craig are an instant team, from first exchange to a witty telephone duplicity.

Both actors, under Barnet Kellman’s artful direction, know how to charm. Levin has placed them among so-far marginal support: Jim Turner’s goof-up sound engineer Cal; Reno Wilson’s songwriter who’s inspired by Craig’s life. But there’s Eileen (Debra Jo Rupp), who specializes in mechanical-voice recordings, and Kate (Deborah Tucker) and Lance (Chris Hogan), whom Jessie bumps into in a tavern.

“INFY” promises and delivers, with McGovern and Azaria playing off each other in style. It’s sharp comedy, tasteful, insightful and quick. And it’s something else not often applied to TV: sophisticated.

Waldemar Kalinowski’s designs are sure-fire, and tech credits are terrif. But it’s Levin’s writing that creates the joy.

If Not for You

(CBS, Mon. Sept. 18, 9:30 p.m.)

Production

Filmed at CBS Studio Center by Rock Island Pictures and Touchstone TV. Executive producers, Larry Levin, Dennis Klein; producer, David Latt; coproducer , Maria Semple; director, Barnet Kellman; writer. Levin.

Crew

Camera, Peter Smokler, editor, Briana London; production designer, Waldemar kalinowski; sound, Bill Remhild: music, Mark Mothersbaugh. 30 MIN.

Cast

Cast: Elizabeth MCGovern, Hank Azaria, Debra Jo Rupp, Jim Turner, Reno Wilson , Deborah Tucker, Chris Hogan, Caroline, Aaron, Kelly Coffield, Peter Krause, Jane Sibbett, Wesley Leong.
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More TV News from Variety

Loading