Picks and Pans Review: All Is Forgiven

updated 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Thurs., March 20, 9:30 p.m. ET)

A

The fact that I once had a crush on Bess Armstrong—star of High Road to China and the one-season sitcom On Our Own—has nothing to do with my liking her new show. Bess went and got married; she never gave me a chance. But I like her show anyway. So there. My friends, my boss and certainly my girlfriend can't understand how I ever could have been sweet on Bess. "She's so white bread," my boss whines. He's right. Bess is white bread, just like Shelley Long and Mary Tyler Moore. And that's precisely what makes them perfect foils for sitcomedy. They're not exactly Everywoman. No, they're realistically ideal—the girls any girl would like to lunch with, the girls any boy would be proud to take home to Mom. Like peanut butter, cashmere sweaters and beagles, you can't help liking them. So you sympathize when they're driven nuts by the nuts surrounding them and you're delighted when you see some quirk peek through their perfection. The old MTM Show did all that for Mary (and the new Mary will try to do the same when it returns March 25 with a softened-up MTM). Cheers does all that now for Shelley and, from the look of the pilot, Forgiven will do likewise for Bess. She's a TV producer who used to make Dairy Board commercials and suddenly ends up producing a failing soap opera. At the same time, she's getting married to Terence (St. Elsewhere) Knox, who already has a smart-mouthed teen daughter, Shawnee (Crime of Innocence) Smith. The kid adds up Bess' number immediately: "You always had a boyfriend. He always had a haircut." At the office, Bess is surrounded by loons, including Valerie (Fame) Landsburg as an overwise secretary and—hallelujah!—Carol (Taxi) Kane as the Southern-accented head writer. Carol celebrates the firing of the soap's ex-producer. "We disagreed about the content of the show," she says. "I thought we should have some." The line is good. Kane makes it great. She's as spectacularly funny as ever. Forgiven (which moves to Saturdays after two weeks of Thursday "previews") comes from Charles/Burrows/Charles, the team that created Cheers. Their new show looks just as hilarious, just as promising. I may not adore Bess anymore, but I think I'll love her show.

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