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Evening Shade Night of the Living Newtons

The Burt Reynoldsization of "Evening Shade" continues as the putatively ensemble series settles into its fourth season. Not only is Reynolds' Wood Newton the dominating figure in more and more episodes (or so it seems), his well-established comic sensibility supplies much of the show's humor. Any subtlety that may have existed during the early seasons has taken the night train to Texarkana.

The Burt Reynoldsization of “Evening Shade” continues as the putatively ensemble series settles into its fourth season. Not only is Reynolds’ Wood Newton the dominating figure in more and more episodes (or so it seems), his well-established comic sensibility supplies much of the show’s humor. Any subtlety that may have existed during the early seasons has taken the night train to Texarkana.

This Halloween-themed show is no exception: When everybody dons costumes for the holiday, it’s Wood who (when his choice proves too frightening for youngest daughter) delves into his trunk and finds a “tooth fairy” costume of white leotard, blond wig, wings, magic wand, oversize tutu and cigar.

Secondary to the horseplay in Allan Crowe’s script is a serious theme about facing up to your fears — youngest daughter Emily’s (Alex Vega) terror of monsters and eldest son and aspiring actor Taylor’s (Jay R. Ferguson) stage fright.

Latter confrontation supplies show’s wittiest moments as Taylor — recently washed out of a “Hamlet” audition in Little Rock and dressed as a scarecrow — frightens everybody. “I’m really starting to find his character,” he crows. “I became that scarecrow, I felt it — I’m an actor.”

High marks this time around, for all the Halloween folderol, go to costumers Howard Sussman and Maureen Gates; makeup artists Brian McManus, Tommy Cole, and Gloria Blackman; and hair stylists Debbie Easton and Mary Ann Hennings.

Show is watchable, but it’s a shame how much available talent is wasted in its execution.

Evening Shade Night of the Living Newtons

(Mon. (25), 8-8:30 p.m., CBS)

  • Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by CBS Entertainment Prods. in association with Mozark Prods., Burt Reynolds Prods. and MTM Enterprises. Exec producers, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Harry Thomason, Burt Reynolds; co-executive producer, Victor Fresco; producers, Tommy Thompson, Douglas G. Jackson, Lamar Jackson; supervising producers, Michael A. Ross, Thom Bray, James Hampton, Kim Friese, Craig Hoffman; director, James Hampton; script, Allan Crowe.
  • Crew: Camera, Nick McLean Sr.; editor, Greg Wong; sound, Norm Webster; music, Bobby Goldsboro; production designer, Beala Neel.
  • Cast: Cast: Burt Reynolds, Elizabeth Ashley, Ossie Davis, Charles Durning, Jay R. Ferguson, Marilu Henner, Hal Holbrook, Candace Hutson, Michael Jeter, Jacob Parker, Alexa Vega, Ann Wedgeworth, Jane Abbott, Brent Burns, Christopher James Miller, Lorne Berfield.
  • Music By: