Taped at the Sony Studios in Culver City by NBC Studios in association with Columbia TriStar TV, Katie Face Prods. and Kokora Prods. Executive producers, Ian Gurvitz, Tony Danza; producer, Tracey Ormandy; co-producer, Frank Merwald; associate producers, Tamara Holmes, Christy Webb; writer, Gurvitz; director, Jay Sandrich; director of photography, Ken Lamkin; Tony Danza is back in typical dese and dose form, portraying a sportswriter who doesn’t know how to use a computer and a single dad who doesn’t know how to parent in a comedy that doesn’t have a clue. As a bonus, the only family values “The Tony Danza Show” imparts are the joys of truancy and hypochondria.
For his fourth comedy series, Danza — alumnus of “Taxi, “Who’s the Boss?” and the forgettable ABC diversion “Hudson Street” — centers the equivalent of “Who’s the Dope?” as a stressed-out technophobe.
First question that’s bound to be raised: How has freelance New York sportswriter Tony DiMeo managed to support a family without knowing his DOS from a hole in the ground? It’s through his big-breasted, computer-literate, Cuban-American assistant Carmen (Maria Canals), a Latina who naturally lapses into Spanish rants during periods of frustration. If there is a unique aspect to the pilot — directed by “Cosby Show” vet Jay Sandrich — it’s that it features an utterly banal hero.
As “The Tony Danza Show” opens, Tony has just split from his wife, leaving him to care solo for a pair of daughters. There’s Tina (Majandra Delfino), 16, strong-willed and a regular truant; and Mickey (Ashley Malinger), 11, who views life as a typhoid outbreak waiting to happen. Among her lines: “Dad, I’m writing a poem. What rhymes with cholera?”
When Tony is going to have a heart-to-heart with Tina, he asks her to “pretend you’re talking to your mother,” a telling request that indicates he is as confused by females as he is floppy discs.
Others populating Tony’s world are his wisecracking high-rise building doorman Stuey (Shaun Weiss), who supplies the requisite Jewish guy element, and Dean Stockwell as Tony’s I-built-‘dis-wit’-my-own-two-hands daddy.
Creator-executive producer Ian Gurvitz penned the prosaic opening script, which finds the shellshocked Tony scratching his head to comprehend why his eldest daughter is ditching school.
Danza, despite his undeniable charm, rarely comes across as natural — and certainly doesn’t here. Earnestness is a poor substitute for savvy.
As for Danza’s supporting cast, they have their moments, particularly Canals. But they ultimately take their cues from a guy who delights in being a Royal typewriter soul stuck in a Microsoft world. His show can’t help but scream yesteryear.
Tech credits are solid.