Picks and Pans Review: The Boys

updated 09/12/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/12/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Showtime (Sat., Sept. 10, 10 p.m. ET)

B+

The good people who brought us It's Garry Shandlinq's Show now deliver a new sitcom about a New York men's club where greats of business, show business and sports once gathered. But now the Excalibur Club is looking a little ratty. It's just a comfy old place where a bunch of old guys can play poker, smoke cigars, sit in the steam room and kvetch about the weather. "This isn't rain," one of the boys says. "Now back in the '40s, that was rain." Boys looks like somebody's tribute to his funny old Uncle Sol. The show is also a salute to its own funny old Borscht Belt stars: Norm Crosby, Norman (Three's Company) Fell, Jackie (Tin Men) Gayle and Lionel (Hart to Hart) Stander. They get to tell jokes the way jokes used to be told. Crosby on health clubs: "Friend of mine joined the club. His first day there he lost 24 lbs...Yeah, one of those stupid machines tore his leg off." Thank you, thank you. Anybody here from outta town?...Once in a while, The Boys goes too far with a bad gag. But since we see these guys through the eyes of a younger man—Steve Levitt as Fell's son-in-law and a prospective member of the club—we get a bittersweet picture of them. Affection is balanced by exasperation. The Boys is a fine addition to Showtime's ever-better stable of sitcoms: Shandling, Brothers and Super Dave.

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