Picks and Pans Review: The Best Times
NBC (Friday, April 19, 8 p.m. ET)
Two of the talents behind the late, lamented Lou Grant show, Seth Freeman and Michele Gallery, set out to bring the real life of the American teen to the TV screen. At that, they succeed. You see two anorectic girls contemplating a mirror. "I'm so fat!" whines one. "Tell me about it," whines the other. You see two stud-struck girls admiring a new customer for razor blades. "Oh, wow! Oh, wow!" they sigh. You hear one teen deliver the modern American equivalent of "What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun." Namely: "I find it really easy to talk to you." You see kids hanging out in the mall. You definitely see high school life as it is, expertly presented. But that begs the question: Do you care to see it? Not to belittle the traumas of teenhood, but acne is not exactly a compelling prime-time crisis. So they throw in more "contemporary issues": drugs, of course, and sex. Best Times is earnest, even more than old high school shows like Room 222 or Mr. Novak, because it adds an extra dollop of hard-edged reality. But it lacks that dash of humor that made a movie like Sixteen Candles real for teens and former teens alike. The closest Best Times comes to a yuk is when a glandularly active boy who's alone with a grinning girl asks, "You want anything to drink?" And she replies, "Sure, anything with sugar and caffeine in it." The show could use some of the same, plus carbonation. With a little less earnestness and more fun, it could pass the test for fall.
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