Series opener showcases a young, working class group who’ve developed a neighborhood rock band, intro’s the characters, presents a couple of contemporaray problems and, thanks to Donald Petrie’s assured direction, displays vitality. Writer Tony Spiridakis has created individuals, not types, and built a solid community.
The band is a serious hobby for its members in the ensemble show. The characters, well developed and natural, are ably interconnected for good dramatic tension and Spiridakis confronts issues like pregnancy or a black bassist’s (Alex Desert) stand on his friendship with whites.
Having a poet (James Waters) nuts over the band’s saxophonist (Cheryl Pollak) , who may or may not care back, or the drummer (Ken Garito) hem-hawing over marrying his pregnant girlfriend (Tasia Valenza) are valid points and played suitably.
A self-impressed lead singer (Shawn David Thompson) teases the well-born blonde guitarist (Charlotte Ross), and the keyboardist (Zachary Throne) tapes city sounds–his conflicts apparently lie ahead.
Acting throughout is good, with sentiment soft-pedaled and relationships involving. Nice tieup has the poet’s paean to his love turning into a tune for the band, with the poet singing it and the lead singer edging into the spotlight.
Another good moment: the bassist’s father (Ray Aranha), who’s snubbed him for years, finally speaking to the troubled drummer. Good human touch.
“The Heights” moves fast, and should do well against CBS’s “The Hat Squad,” though NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries” and ABC’s “Wonder Years”-“Doogie Howser” combo are challenges.