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TV Review: 'Baby Bob' milks tired old gimmick

Monday, March 18, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Perhaps if we still lived in the '80s, the era of "ALF" and "Small Wonder," "Baby Bob" wouldn't seem so bad.

Who am I kidding? Yes, it would. "ALF" was pure genius compared to this unfunny stinker.

"Baby Bob"

WHEN: 8:30 tonight on CBS.

STARRING: Adam Arkin, Joely Fisher, Elliott Gould, Holland Taylor.


"Baby Bob" is based on a TV commercial, and not an enduring one like the Maytag Repairman or Charmin-squeezing Mr. Whipple. "Baby Bob" was inspired by a commercial for now defunct FreeInternet.com that aired a couple of years ago.

Furthermore, talking babies had a pretty good run in the John Travolta-Kirstie Alley "Look Who's Talking" films of the early '90s. Wasn't that enough for one lifetime?

Apparently not.

With new technology that allows the addition of a computer animated mouth, CBS foists "Baby Bob" upon us, complete with pop culture references that feel as current as the show's high concept.

Teletubbies? So 1998. The Budweiser Whassup guys? Totally 2000.

The baby's cute, of course, but there's little new humor to mine. A talking baby may be amusing in 30-second doses, but try to sustain the gimmick for a half-hour every week and you wind up with, well, "Baby Bob."

Adam Arkin and Joely Fisher are cast as Baby Bob's parents, with Elliott Gould as Arkin's dad and Holland Taylor as Fisher's mom. Ken Campbell provides the gruff voice of Bob.

Fisher describes Bob's unusual talent, calling him "a 6-month-old who starts talking like a Teamster from Chicago." This comes not long after the scene where Bob first talks, drawing Fisher to the floor. Fisher's crouching almost causes her breasts to jump out of her shirt.

"OK, we're switching to formula, like, tonight," she says once she hears Bob's voice in a line that's sort of funny until it sinks in, and then it's just disturbing.

"Baby Bob" displaces "Yes, Dear" tonight, and in coming weeks CBS tosses its Monday comedies up in the air and they all land in different time slots, but "Bob" remains at 8:30 for the duration of its six-week run.

After that, no one could fault CBS if it chooses to throw this "Baby" out with the bath water.

You can reach Rob Owen at rowen@post-gazette.com Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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