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TV Reviews: Nothing new to show in these new comedies

Monday, September 30, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

The last two new comedy series to roll off the network assembly line are -- like so many other new shows -- cute, amusing and varying degrees of funny. Both are mild, mostly pleasant diversions, but they're also easy to skip because neither brings anything new or interesting to prime time.

Mark Addy and Jami Gertz have chemistry, which makes CBS's "Still Standing" a much better show than it otherwise would be. Yes, it's yet another fat-guy-with-a-slim-girl romance, but this one is more believable than, say, Jim Belushi and Courtney Thorne-Smith on ABC's "According to Jim."

Structurally, this show also apes "Jim" by giving Gertz's character a sister. Tonight's pilot was filmed on the set of CBS's "Yes, Dear" to save money, but the Millers get their own home in subsequent episodes.

"Still Standing"

When: 9:30 tonight on CBS.

Starring: Jami Gertz, Mark Addy


Addy, known mostly for his role in "The Full Monty," and Gertz, last seen playing Gilda Radner in a biopic and as a recurring guest star in the waning days of "Ally McBeal," play a married, blue-collar Chicago couple, Bill and Judy Miller.

After 15 years of marriage, these high school sweethearts still have a playfulness that's refreshing. (Some of their sex talk will annoy viewers already put off by any sexual innuendo in "Everybody Loves Raymond.") The Millers take no guff from their children and are still clearly in love.

The premiere introduces the characters, including the Miller children. Lauren (Renee Olstead) is embarrassed that she's the only one in her peer group whose parents remain married.

"Oh, sweetie, your father and I have already apologized about that," Judy says lovingly but sarcastically.

Son Brian (Taylor Ball) is a computer nerd. Bill finds it tough relating to the boy and ends up giving him advice that backfires, resulting in a trip to the principal's office for the kid and his parents.

"He is not a bad father," Judy says, defending Bill. "He is just a stupid, stupid man!"

Yeah, it's another dumb-daddy show, but "Still Standing" has a sweet streak that makes it less objectionable than others.

'Less Than Perfect'

This sitcom is decidedly less perfect than "Still Standing," which doesn't typify perfection itself, but at least "Perfect" has a winning star in Sara Rue ("Popular').

Rue plays Claude, a sweet, excitable temp who gets her dream job working as an assistant to a network news anchor, played, improbably, by Eric Roberts.

"Less Than Perfect"

When: 9:30 p.m. tomorrow on ABC.

Starring: Sara Rue, Andy Dick


Claude's friends are her fellow scrubs from the temp pool, Ramona (Sherry Shepherd) and Owen (Andy Dick). The three butt heads with the "cool kids" who work in the newsroom, Kipp (Zachary Levi) and Lydia (Andrea Parker).

"The way it works around here is you people supply and we demand," Kipp declares.

Hierarchies exist in the corporate American workplace, but it's usually not this childish or overt.

Ridiculous as that aspect of the show is, other elements are stronger, particularly Rue. She plays a likable TV character, an average-size woman amid a sea of models. It's too bad tomorrow's premiere harps on this fact constantly as Claude makes self-deprecating jokes about her weight.

In one scene, Lydia says, "There's cake over at the copy desk." The close-up on Lydia cuts to a wide shot. Claude isn't in the frame, but her chair is spinning, as if she ran to get food.

If you're brave enough to cast a woman who's not rail thin, why undercut it with fat jokes?

Dick is zany as ever, and he's found a great playmate in Shepherd, a funny comedic actress who keeps getting cast in bombs like "Emeril" and "Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central)." As the show opens tomorrow, she and Owen discuss disturbing children's songs. She cites "Rock-a-Bye-Baby."

"You put an infant in a tree, I'm calling social services," she says.

Shepherd's delivery and timing are almost better than perfect. Someone in Hollywood needs to write a show for her.

Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Post questions or comments to http://www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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