Picks and Pans Review: Showing the New Fall Line
The networks are giving us about two dozen new shows this fall. Oh, stop groaning. It can't be all that bad. A few good shows came out of last year's batch. Well, at least one: The Golden Girls. The odds this year can't be any worse.
•Most amazing program description: Sledge Hammer! about a cop who talks to his gun. ABC says he "makes Dirty Harry and Rambo look like Pee-wee Herman." I'm just glad they're letting us know it's a comedy.
•A star vehicle: Lucille Ball returns again in Life With Lucy (ABC). She's a widow who goes to work in her late husband's hardware store with partner Gale Gordon. Hope it's half as good as I Love Lucy and at least twice as good as Here's Lucy.
•Yuppie love: On ABC's Our Kind of Town, she's Shelley Hack, a newspaper columnist. He's Tom Mason, "a young entrepreneur on the rise." Together they're "one of Chicago's most beloved couples...They love what they do and they love each other, which causes problems they overcome with mutual love and support." Call them Yuckies.
•So what if nobody watched V: Now there's ALF (NBC), with a "boorish, temperamental, bedraggled" puppet from another planet who invades a suburban family. Starman (ABC) has Robert Hays playing the movie's alien 14 years later. The Wizard of Elm Street (CBS) has "a little man with great powers of imagination and invention...Certain foreign powers also seek his incredible skills—and not always for humane reasons." Uh-oh.
•Nuked families: I count at least four divorces, six widowed mates and five orphans in the new shows. Taking Funky Brewster's sweetsie Sunday spot on NBC is Our House, with Wilford Brimley as a cranky gramps who lives with his widowed daughter-in-law and three grandkids. In The Ellen Burstyn Show (ABC), Ellen plays a prof who lives with her mom, her divorced daughter and her grandson. In Taking the Town (CBS), Pam Dawber is a single photog living with her teen daughter. Together We Stand (CBS) has Elliott Gould adopting an ethnic grab bag of kids. And The Last Electric Knight (ABC), a Disney TV movie spin-off, has Gil Gerard playing guardian to a half-pint-size karate champ.
•A distaff Dr. Kildare: Kay O'Brien, Surgeon (CBS)—the title tells me all I want to know.
•The Golden Girls getting down to business: Four women start a decorating business in Designing Women (CBS).
•Down in Beverly Hills: Better Days (CBS) stars a "fun-loving Beverly Hills lad" who moves to Brooklyn and becomes the only white player on his school's basketball team. And Loni Anderson plays a wealthy Beverly Hills widow who lives with her "snarly old uncle" in Easy Street (NBC).
•Order in the court: Producer Michael (Miami Vice) Mann gives us Crime Story (NBC), about elite Chicago cops in the '60s who nab mobsters. Downtown (CBS) is about a tough L.A. cop who has to supervise four wild and crazy parolees. Cold Steel and Neon (ABC) is about another cop who has to raise his kids solo. LA. Law(NBC), from Steven (Hill Street Blues) Bochco, tries to make lawyers interesting. Matlock (NBC), starring Andy Griffith, tries to make lawyers likable with his folksy accent. And Mike Hammer (CBS) returns.
•Lite news: NBC's American Almanac returns as 1986, and ABC delivers Our World, about memorable moments in history. But CBS' news trinket, West 57th, is not on the schedule. Thank you, CBS.
•None of the above: We also have Howard Hesseman teaching smart kids in Head of the Class (ABC). And Sherman Hemsley warring with his minister in Amen (NBC).
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