If Not for You Detour Ahead

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.

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 are solid characters: Elliott (Peter Krause) is clean-cut, precise and dull; Melanie (Jane Sibbett), well intended and acceptable, lives for causes. 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 Detour Ahead

(Mon. (18), 9:30-10 p.m., CBS)

Production: Filmed at CBS Studio Center by Rock Island Pictures and Touchstone TV. Executive producers, Larry Levin, Dennis Klein; producer, David Latt; co-producer, Maria Semple; director, Barnet Kellman; writer, Levin; camera, Peter Smokler; editor, Briana London; production designer, Waldemar Kalinowski; sound, Bill Remhild; music, Mark Mothersbaugh. #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. CBS rings the sitcom bell with "If Not for You," a delightfully produced romantic whirl 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 next table to Craig Schaeffer (Azaria), a record producer at the same studio. Both are with their fiances and exchange a glance.

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