Making excellent use of the insightful voiceover narration of “Sex and the City” and the amusing, illuminating thought balloons of “Pop-Up Video,” “Maybe It’s Me,” which follows the travails of 15-year-old Molly, is fresh and fun, and even its scary dip into weepy sentimentality can’t unhinge this quirky one-camera sitcom. The WB has assembled a family-friendly Friday night, starting with “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” and “Maybe” is a definite yes as that vet series’ lead-out.Molly Stage (peppy newcomer Reagan Dale Neis) is completely mortified by her family: Clueless but sweet mom Mary (Julia Sweeney); soccer coach dad Jerry (hilarious Fred Willard, channeling his great characters from “Waiting for Guffman” and “Best in Show”); bad-boy older bro Rick (Andrew Walker), who deals in dodgy goods; rocker brother Grant (Patrick Levis), who breaks out into electric Christian ditties at the drop of a guitar pick; and twin terrors Mindy and Cindy (Daniella and Deanna Canterman), whom Dad can’t tell apart. Plus there’s extremely off-kilter Grandma Harriet (Ellen Albertini Dow), who likes to hide food, and grouchy Grandpa Fred, who’s just, well, grouchy. First episode, which was the only one available for review, dispatches with exposition brightly and succinctly, letting the simple plot — Molly hoping to impress a boy so that he asks her out — roll out briskly, culminating in a disastrous family dinner that narrowly avoids the off-ramp to the mawkish exit but imparts a nice value lesson anyway. Creator-writer Suzanne Martin (“Frasier”), along with ace exec producers Jay Daniel (“Roseanne,” “Cybill”) and Jeff Martin (“The Simpsons”), bring a wealth of quality sitcom experience to the show, as well as an off-balance point of view. It’s crucial that this POV be maintained, since these offbeat characters, despite their quirks, easily could become cliched. The cast has fun with the material, and as show’s centerpiece, Neis is cute but not too cute; she’s sort of like a 3-D Lisa Simpson, able to see how weird her family is, but loving them anyway. Willard and Sweeney seem to delight in their whacked-out characterizations. Tech credits are tops, and show’s good look is due to the mobile camera of Michael Grady. Although show changed in July to current moniker from “Maybe I’m Adopted,” old title remains on the review tape.
The WB; Fri., 8:30 p.m.
Filmed by Touchstone TV, Warner Bros. TV and SamJen Prods. in Burbank and Vancouver. Executive producers, Suzanne Martin, Jay Daniel, Jeff Martin; producer, Tony Brown; associate producer, Adam Silverman; director, Bryan Gordon; writer, Suzanne Martin.
Camera, Michael Grady; production designer, Chris August; editor, Jonathan Posell; music, Wendy Blackstone; sound, Greg Gerlich; casting, Barbara Miller, Marla Garlin (Los Angeles), Coreen Mayrs (Vancouver). Running time: 30 MIN.
Molly Stage - Reagan Dale Neis Mary Stage - Julia Sweeney Jerry Stage - Fred Willard Grant Stage - Patrick Levis Rick Stage - Andrew Walker Mindy Stage - Daniella Canterman Cindy Stage - Deanna Canterman Mia - Vicki Davis Grandma Harriet Krupp - Ellen Albertini Dow Grandpa Fred Stage - Dabbs Greer
With: Shaun Sipos, Walter Marsh, Kira Allen, Kristie Marsden, Jillian Marie.
Data provided by:Nielsen Media Research (Preliminary Results)