Picks and Pans Review: Comedy Zone
CBS (Friday, Aug. 31, 8 p.m. ET)
There's a signpost up ahead. Next stop: Comedy Zone. Submitted for your approval, a one-hour program in which the writers are the stars, a nice turnabout of egos. The second episode was galaxies better than the opener, which came off as a series of pointless, meandering skits. This show seems to define itself as somewhere between Saturday Night Live and The Carol Burnett Show. Many of the writers are young; most of them are playwrights with off-Broadway credits, including Christopher Durang, John Bishop, John Ford Noonan, Mark O'Donnell, Wendy Wasserstein and cartoonist Jules Feiffer. The troupe of performers are mostly unknowns: Ann Lange, Bob Gunton, Mark Linn-Baker, Audrie J. Neenan, Bill Randolph and Joe Mantegna, who won a Tony this year for Glengarry Glen Ross. The second show sported such guest stars as Dabney Coleman, Jane Curtin, Mariette Hartley and stand-up comic Michael Davis, who juggles a bowling ball, an egg and an apple at the same time. Most of the skits could use some boiling down. Some make their point, worth a laugh, then carry it on and on. A few, however, are right on the mark, such as John Bishop's How Women Break Bad News, an absurd and perceptive sketch about a woman (Hartley) telling her husband (Coleman) of her extramarital affair. It'll take time for Comedy Zone to reach its stride, but considering how far it has come in a week, well, let's keep our funny bones crossed.
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