TV vets Bridget Hanley (“Here Come the Brides,” “Harper Valley P.T.A.”) and Lee Meriwether (“Barnaby Jones”) make themselves right at home in Eugene Pack’s lightweight sitcom that plays more like a series pilot than a stage comedy. Hampered by Pack’s leisurely pacing, the production still manages to render a humorous and poignant chronicle of a middle-aged widow attempting to reinvent herself in the modern world of computer technology.
Pack (MTV’s “The Jenny McCarthy Show,” VH1’s “Signs of Life”) has created a facile if formulaic setup for an ongoing series. Widowed and left destitute by the death of her (“not a very good businessman”) husband, Elinor (Hanley) has doggedly returned to college to complete a computer course to prepare herself to return to the work force.
Unable to afford an apartment of her own, she finds herself economically compelled to share living quarters with divorced, middle-aged library worker Dempsey (Tom Dahlgren), whose monumental sense of insecurity is only slightly mitigated by his great love of jazz.
Complicating her life further are her laid-back but surly young computer lab partner Kirby (Steve O’Connor) and angst-ridden college student Justine (Ellen Idelson), with whom Elinor shares a part-time job selling vitamins.
Adding to the mix are the brief but energetic appearances of Elinor’s intense but comical boss Cindy (Susan Morgenstern) and former bridge buddy Millie (Lee Meriwether) who miraculously bolsters Elinor’s flagging vitamin sales.
Hanley exudes a fine balance of gritty determination, woeful insecurity and good humor as the adventurous widow. Since every other character’s ongoing motivation is rigidly set in stone, it is up to Hanley’s Elinor to make all the emotional segues, a task she handles with seamless aplomb.
Dahlgren creates a sympathetic presence as life-defeated Dempsey but is often annoyingly slow in picking up his cues. O’Connor is on the mark as a contemporary college student who doesn’t have the faintest idea of what he wants to do in life other than “sit in a cafe in Europe drinking coffee.” Idelson is hilarious as romance challenged Justine.
Tom Giamario’s rudimentary but adequate multi-leveled set serves the action well, as does Joe Morrissey’s lighting.