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No Laughing Matter

Emma Polsky (Suzanne Somers) is the bright, attractive and funny widowed mother of teen honor-student Charlie (Chad Christ). She has a drinking problem that seemingly increases exponentially, and Charlie has problems of his own -- chief among them a girlfriend, Lauren (Selma Blair), who's pregnant.

Emma Polsky (Suzanne Somers) is the bright, attractive and funny widowed mother of teen honor-student Charlie (Chad Christ). She has a drinking problem that seemingly increases exponentially, and Charlie has problems of his own — chief among them a girlfriend, Lauren (Selma Blair), who’s pregnant. (One wonders how; this being basic cable, she wears a bathing suit in the hot tub.) All gets sorted out within two hours, with no surprises along the way.

The virtues of “No Laughing Matter” are its realistic portrayal of one aspect of alcoholic behavior, and the convincing manner in which it’s played by Somers.

Not every alcoholic is as bright or attractive as Somers’ character: in the script by Ted Kristian and director Michael Elias (from Kristian’s story), Emma is so winning that virtually everyone involved (including, presumably, the home audience) is rooting for her as she reaches bottom — for Emma a state that involves a lot of thoughtless speech and falling down.

After a particularly bad evening, Charlie breaks her bottles, forcing his mother to bed, cold-turkey. The next morning: “Something’s missing — my hangover! Where is it, Charlie?” Emma’s off to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. (If only it were that easy.)

Somers, who has made no secret of alcoholics prominent in her own early life, nails Emma; aside from the speed of her fall and recovery, her portrayal seems on-the-spot.

Also notable are Frank Gerrish as Emma’s Lou Grant-like boss (when she hands him a computer disc with a messy label, he fumes “I hate sloppy floppies,” prompting her to volunteer to take them home and iron them); Elizabeth Hansen and Michael Flynn as Lauren’s wealthy, uptight parents; and Robert Desiderio as a man who turns out to be Emma’s love interest.

No Laughing Matter

Drama; USA, Wed. April 1, 9 p.m

  • Production: Filmed in Salt Lake City by Great Falls Prods. in association with Universal Television Entertainment. Executive producer, Jean Abounader; director, Michael Elias; script, Ted Kristian, Elias.
  • Crew: Camera, Reed Smoot; editor, Laura Krumholz; production designer, Gary Constable; sound, Don Sanders; music, Lenny Niehaus; casting, Abra Edelman, Elisa Goodman. 2 HOURS.
  • With: Emma - Suzanne Somers Charlie - Chad Christ Lauren - Selma Blair Richard Warren - Robert Desiderio Connie - Ann Bosler With: Frank Gerrish, James Thompson, Brad Slocum, Elizabeth Hansen, Michael Flynn, Melissa Pace, David Jean Thomas, Dawn Bluford, Laraine Mestman, William Moore, Allegra Bel Pizzino, Joey Miyashima, Richard Dayhuff. Camera, Reed Smoot; editor, Laura Krumholz; production designer, Gary Constable; sound, Don Sanders; music, Lenny Niehaus; casting, Abra Edelman, Elisa Goodman. <b>2 HOURS.</b>
  • Music By: