Picks and Pans Review: Aaron's Way

updated 03/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/14/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Wed., March 9, 8 p.m. ET)

B+

Maybe I'm just getting old and soft, but Aaron's Way is okay, even if it isn't much spicier than pabulum or the Michael Landon show it replaces in the family hour (Highway to Heaven is moving to 9 p.m.). Merlin Olsen plays an Amish farmer who takes his family away from their old-fashioned life in Pennsylvania to California's wine country; their wandering son died there, leaving behind a pregnant girlfriend (Kathleen York) who needs help running her vineyard. The series comes with a standard set of culture-shock and time-warp gags at the expense of these oldfangled Amish folk: An escalator befuddles Olsen, a blender frightens his wife (Belinda Montgomery), and a bodybuilding magazine with "pictures of sweaty men in colored underpants" confounds one of their three kids. The plot is also standard equipment: The good guys have to bring the crop in on time or they may lose their farm. But Jessica Walter as York's salty mom saves the show from sapdom. When she sees an Amish wife being just too true-blue, Jessica screams, "June Allyson lives!" What also saves the show is that its charm and sweetness are not forced. The cast doesn't try too hard. They make Aaron's Way amazingly easy to like.

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