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TV Review: Mr. Lane goes to Washington

Friday, June 13, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette Tv Editor

For a series being burned off in the summer, I'd expect CBS's "Charlie Lawrence" to be much worse than it is.

As evidenced by the premiere episode, the only one made available for review, it's not a great sitcom, but it's certainly funnier than the long-canceled "Bram & Alice," which CBS thought fit enough to put on the schedule last fall.

 
 

'CHARLIE LAWRENCE'

WHEN: 8 p.m. Sunday on CBS.

   
 

Nathan Lane ("Encore! Encore!") stars as the title character, an openly gay actor who is elected to fill the term of a recently deceased Democratic U.S. congressman from New Mexico.

The comedy has the tone one would expect about a gay character played by Lane, who serves as the show's producer with Jeffrey Richman ("Frasier," "Stark Raving Mad"). Charlie stares at the Washington Monument and exclaims, "Boy, that could give you an inferiority complex."

When he meets up with a bachelor Republican congressman, played by Ted McGinley, Charlie gets the wrong idea.

"A lot of guys here are strictly on one team, but I like to be open," McGinley's Graydon Cord says. "If you want to have as many relationships as possible, you've got to be bipartisan."

"I was with you right up 'til 'partisan,' " Charlie shoots back.

The innuendo continues in like fashion. It's not offensive, but a little repetitive.

What "Charlie Lawrence" lacks in imagination is made up for in its supporting cast. Laurie Metcalf ("Roseanne") stars as Charlie's cold, uptight chief of staff. Stephanie Faracy (so good on AMC's "The Lot") plays a naive, slightly scattered office manager. Newcomer T.R Knight is sympathetic as an easily befuddled intern.

They make a good team with excellent comic timing. But it doesn't matter because CBS has zero faith in the show.

Network executives have seen additional episodes, the ones they didn't show critics, and there's probably good reason for their disinterest, especially if the premiere is the best of the bunch, as one would assume.

Sorry, "Charlie."


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

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