02/22/1988 at 01:00 AM EST
CBS (Sun., Feb. 21, 9 p.m. ET)
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-63) is still my favorite TV show or at least my fondest video memory. In 1984 I was so overjoyed to see Dobie return in reruns that I put him on our list of the year's 10 best TV shows. Now Dobie returns again, this time as a new TV movie that reunites most of the original stars (see story, page 61). But this time, I'm not quite so delighted. It is great to see Dwayne Hickman back as Dobie. He hasn't changed and neither have those wonderful, wide-eyed monologues he gives at the foot of The Thinker. Hickman ought to return to acting; we need a sly, wry Bob Cummings for the '80s. It's also nice to see Bob (Gilligan's Island) Denver back as the workaphobic Maynard G. Krebs even if he has changed...a lot...a whole lot. And it's a kick to see all those old gags: Zelda scrunching her nose at Dobie; Maynard coming out with a malaprop a minute ("My lips are soiled") and Dobie getting upset ("Maynard, that's sealed"). But I'm afraid that kids (and adults) who are too young to remember America at its Eisenhower-Kennedy cusp will look at these gags and gag themselves. I'm afraid they will call the plot—about Thalia Menninger's returning to town so she can snare Dobie at last—too silly to stand. I'm afraid that Dobie works better as a memory than as a movie.