Weinberger; writers-creators-story, Blasucci, Marc Flanagan, Sam Simon; music, Stephen Graziano; song, title music performed by Carly Simon.
Cast: Judith Light, William Devane, Angela Goethals, Todd Louiso, Ashley Johnson, Jennifer Lien, Maggie Linderman, Randy Josselyn, Johnny Whitworth, Bette Rae.
The center of “Phenom” is a disturbed family headed by insecure divorced mother Dianne Doolan (Judith Light), whose spoiled 15-year-old daughter Angela (Angela Goethals), one of four kids, has the makings of a top tennis player. Luckily, vain, maddening pro tennis coach Lou Del La Rosa (William Devane) steps onto the court; faced with this dismal clan, he’s an ace.
The coach, who runs a tennis academy, phones Angela after seeing her play. He sends her a videocassette demonstrating his facility and talents. Angela, not known as self-conscious or disciplined, goes for it, but Dianne, who woos rather than disciplines her children, tells Angela she’d rather have her grow up like a normal girl, not like a tennis star.
That, of course, should be the end of it, but not in sitcomland, where youngsters sound off or manipulate their parents into doing their bidding. Devane’s loudmouth Del La Rosa breezes in like a zephyr to clear the air.
Light’s Dianne comes off as well meaning, while Goethals’ Angela needs severe guidance before she’s human, much less amusing. Todd Louiso plays teenage brother Brian, who’s retreated into numbness.
It’s Devane’s show. He pumps vitality into the otherwise lusterless Doolan household, where wrangling and pleading are the order of the day. Without him there’d be no game.