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Maybe This Time

Taped in Burbank by Michael Jacobs Prods. in association with Touchstone Television. Executive producers, Bob Young, Michael Jacobs; creators-writers, Jacobs, Young, Susan Estelle Jansen; producers, Mitchell Bank, David Trainer; supervising producer, Jansen; director, Trainer; camera, Donald Morgan; editor, Marco Zappia; production designer, John C. Mula; sound, Barry Stephens; music, Ray Colcord. TX:Cast: Marie Osmond, Betty White, Ashley Johnson, Shiloh Strong, Craig Ferguson, Sam McMurray, Ashley Gardner, Catherine Lloyd Burns, Tony Carlin, Challen Cates, Stacy Cortez, Ric Stoneback, Nicole Sullivan. It's risky to underestimate the combined draw of Marie Osmond and Betty White, but their new sitcom is a big maybe, even for the crucial female demographic. The debut -- long on life lessons and short on humor -- is really kind of a downer. Series is certain to focus on dating misadventures of Osmond's character, the blossoming of Gracie and the exploits of Shirley, who's been married five times and is a combination matchmaker, Dear Abby and romantic libertine.

Taped in Burbank by Michael Jacobs Prods. in association with Touchstone Television. Executive producers, Bob Young, Michael Jacobs; creators-writers, Jacobs, Young, Susan Estelle Jansen; producers, Mitchell Bank, David Trainer; supervising producer, Jansen; director, Trainer; camera, Donald Morgan; editor, Marco Zappia; production designer, John C. Mula; sound, Barry Stephens; music, Ray Colcord. TX:Cast: Marie Osmond, Betty White, Ashley Johnson, Shiloh Strong, Craig Ferguson, Sam McMurray, Ashley Gardner, Catherine Lloyd Burns, Tony Carlin, Challen Cates, Stacy Cortez, Ric Stoneback, Nicole Sullivan. It’s risky to underestimate the combined draw of Marie Osmond and Betty White, but their new sitcom is a big maybe, even for the crucial female demographic. The debut — long on life lessons and short on humor — is really kind of a downer. Series is certain to focus on dating misadventures of Osmond’s character, the blossoming of Gracie and the exploits of Shirley, who’s been married five times and is a combination matchmaker, Dear Abby and romantic libertine.

Osmond flashes her pearlies often enough. Her wholesome image belongs in the new Disney-ABC family, yet it may be too nice even for the 8:30 slot (following “The Jeff Foxworthy Show”).

The kid has some of the funniest lines, but that’s not saying much. The three creators, Michael Jacobs, Bob Young and Susan Estelle Jansen, are responsible for the ponderous script and sum up the show in one line: “Give life a chance or you’ll never fall in love again.”

Rounding out the cast are Logan (Craig Ferguson), the randy Scottish cook who’s constantly quoting his gran in Aberdeen, and the cafe’s delivery boy (Shiloh Strong).

David Trainer’s direction is adequate. Message seems to be that a woman isn’t complete without a man. Turns out, “Maybe This Time” needs a substantial male character to create some tension, comedic and otherwise.

ABC will air the pilot Sept. 16 in its regular slot, as well as a preview of the night before. Shiloh Strong’s character does not appear after the pilot, and Amy Hill is a new regular.

Maybe This Time

(Sat. (16), 8:30-9 p.m., ABC)

Production: Recently divorced Julia (Osmond) doesn't want to risk a new relationship, choosing instead to focus on her business -- an upscale coffee bar -- and her wisecracking 11-year-old daughter, Gracie (Ashley Johnson). Her mother, Shirley (White), has other ideas, and sets her up with the guy next door.

Cast: With all due respect to White, especially for her work on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," something's amiss if she's relied upon to give a 1995 sitcom an edge. Too much is pinned on her character, which needs to be more clearly defined.

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