There’s something very familiar about CBS’ “Sealed With a Kiss,” but that’s not such a terrible thing. A small-screen patchwork of “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” this semi-sweet telepic is a calm, unruffled affair that hits all of its intended marks with a cupid’s arrows. Solid lead perfs from Annabeth Gish and John Stamos buoy the thirtysomething romance, but it’s the use of composed dialogue that stands out. Auds tired of primetime fare that relies wholly on sexual innuendo and perpetual promiscuity should applaud this portrait of love among the yuppies.
Demographically speaking, this made-for is also a wise choice to kick off the Eye web’s fall season. If the network wants to shed itself of its “geezer” image, then this is the right way to do it — two young professionals on a quest for happiness. But it ain’t exactly “Dawson’s Creek” — joining the sweethearts is a much-traveled supporting cast that includes vet thesps Robert Stack, Angie Dickinson, Barry Corbin and Nell Carter. Oh well, it’s a start.
Bennett (Stamos) is an on-the-rise attorney engaged to the fetching but demanding Christina (Jane Sibbett). Golfing with a potential client, Bennett’s ball takes a bizarre roll and earns him a hole-in-one. It’s a great shot but a costly one (the client isn’t exactly a gracious loser) and Bennett thinks the unusual occurrence happened for a reason and begins to question his life’s perspective. Not thrilled about this chain of events is Bennett’s boss Sumner (Stack), who is also his future father-in-law.
While Bennett is on the links, Boston curator Robbie (Gish) is writing to an ex-flame, using beautiful prose to clarify her feelings. The only problem is that, after she sends it, the note ends up in Christina’s hands since Robbie’s beau has moved out of their apartment.
Bennett ventures out to return the letter and visits Robbie at work, where her passion for historical restoration piques his interest. But the admiration is one-sided: Robbie mistakes Bennett for a Washington bureaucrat who has come to cut off her federal funding; she kicks him out and sabotages the moment before he can explain the situation.
The two eventually meet up again and spend a few days discussing their dreams before their friendship evolves into a courtship, thus jeopardizing Bennett’s upcoming nuptials.
There’s nothing particularly fresh about all of this, but the mature treatment of an old-hat plot deserves an honorable mention. Director Ron Lagomarsino and screenwriter Jeff Arch (who wrote “Seattle”) have a handle on the characters and their emotions, and they both deserve kudos for avoiding abundant sentimentality. The TV landscape certainly doesn’t need more sappy stories with dopey resolutions, so this unforced “Kiss” is much appreciated.
Gish and Stamos are both restrained, and they actually act like real people. What doesn’t work, however, is the parade of famous faces trotted out to lure the old folks: Stack is fine as the stern daddy, but Corbin and Dickinson are underused, and Carter isn’t necessary.
Tech credits are good, with a nod to Bob Primes’ polished lensing and Gerry Holmes’ tasteful production design.