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TV Review: 'Ed' makes strong return tonight

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

At the end of last season, "Ed" started to feel slapped together. The season finale, especially, was a letdown, with the unwelcome return of Ed's onetime, oversexed, ice queen love interest, Bonnie Hane (guest star Rena Sofer).

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Tuned In: Creators plan more chemistry for 'Ed'


When: 8 tonight on NBC.

Starring: Tom Cavanagh, Julie Bowen.


What a welcome relief to have "Ed" back in top form for tonight's second-season premiere. The episode picks up right where the show left off, with Ed answering his door to find Bonnie on his stoop as Carol (Julie Bowen) waits for him to return so the couple can get on with getting it on.

That doesn't happen, of course. The laws of sexual tension on television require roadblocks to constantly keep fated lovers apart lest the tension dissolve and the ratings erode. So instead, we see Ed chatting with the two women trying to pretend like nothing is amiss. Ah, the comedy of the uncomfortable.

Tonight's episode, written by series creators Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman, finds a believable way to keep Ed (Tom Cavanagh) and Carol (Julie Bowen) separated while weaving the theme of fate into their story and a plot about high school doofus Warren (Justin Long) going to court after he smuggles beer into a party.

Ed's $10 bet with buddy Mike (Josh Randall) returns, while Mike's wife, Nancy (Jana Marie Hupp), quits her job to become a stay-at-home mom.

At Stuckeyville High School, Carol and Molly (the underused Lesley Boone) meet the new principal, a jerk in his brusque manner, who nonetheless gives Carol something to think about.

The most surreal moment comes when Phil (Michael Ian Black) returns.

At the end of last season he went to New York to audition for a new candid camera TV show called "Outrageiacs." In a weird case of life imitating art, Black was tapped to host NBC's hateful "Candid Camera" rip-off, "Spy TV." When Black's Phil returns, he excoriates "Outrageiacs" and, by extension, "Spy TV."

"I declined to audition," Phil says. "It was nothing more than an idiotic and mean-spirited rip-off of 'Candid Camera,' a total embarrassment to the airwaves. I remember a time when television used to entertain us with the craftsmanship of writing, acting, directing. Now they just try to shock us with the dreck of sensational sewage. Soon they'll be putting people into coffins filled with rats."

That last reference is to NBC's "Fear Factor," of course.

Thankfully, "Ed" brings honor to the craftsmanship of writing, acting and directing in an hour that's silly, funny and moving. Welcome back, "Ed."

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