Acast of likable characters gather around Thea Turrell (played by Thea Vidale), who’s a wise, direct, widowed mother of four in a well-written, appealing script by Bernie Kukoff. Directed sharply by Jay Sandrich, “Thea” has heart as well as old-fashioned good humor; program has good commercial possibilities.
Thea works hard to support her brood: responsible Jarvis Jr. (Adam Jeffries), 16; sharpie Jerome (Jason Weaver), 14; sensible Danesha (Brandy Norwood); and wee James (Brenden Jefferson).
Thea puts Jarvis in charge while she’s out of the house one night. Danesha’s going to study at the library with a new boyfriend, and she’s told to be home on time. Jerome, getting around Jarvis — and Mom’s instructions — goes to the video arcade for a tourney, and Thea comes home early.
Casting is terrif, with Vidale serving up a strong character who knows how to express herself. Briefly but forthrightly drilling Danesha’s friend (Kenny Ford Jr.), describing a man making a pass at her, and pouring love over small James, Vidale’s Thea Turrell is a prize.
The youngsters are winners, too. Weaver’s Jerome is a pleasure, and Jeffries’ Jarvis yells dependability. Norwood hasn’t enough to do in the first outing; young Jefferson’s James is amusing. Sitcom, blessedly free of coarse lingo or innuendo, could become a standard.
A second episode airs Sept. 15 at 8:30 p.m., before series bows Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. Looks like Thea and her family will be around for a while; they’re worth a visit.