Picks and Pans Review: The Tortellis

updated 01/26/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/26/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Thurs., Jan. 22, 9:30 p.m. ET)

A

NBC's newest sitcom starts with one strike in its favor—it's replacing the boorish You Again?—and two strikes against it: The Tortellis is a spin-off, not usually a good sign, not even if it's spun from a good series like Cheers. And it stars two characters you wouldn't want to share a one-story elevator ride with. One's scum, the other's stupid. But Dan Hedaya as Nick Tortelli (Carla's ex on Cheers) isn't just scum, he's sleaze, he's slime, he's superscum. That is the show's saving grace. Nick dreams he's died on a bus and hears God bellowing at him for cheating on his two wives, his customers and his kids. So Nick pleads, "Don't I get any points for consistency?" His second wife, Jean Kasem as Loretta, the dumbest blonde in the history of TV, runs to Vegas to live with her sister Charlotte (Carlene Watkins) after she finds Nick in the shower with the Avon lady. "I told you we were trying out a new brush," Nick confesses. "Okay, I was lying." A one-watt light clicks on in Loretta's head. "I knew it!" she declares. So Nick, his son Anthony (pronounced "Antny") and Loretta move in with Charlotte. Nick agrees to share the rent. "That's fair," he tells Charlotte, "as long as we sleep together, and I get some change.... Can't ya take a joke?" "Not," Charlotte says, "when it's married to my sister." The Tortellis is not only hilarious, it also brings back the kind of wonderfully wry, weird humor we haven't seen on TV since Taxi.

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