11/07/1988 at 01:00 AM EST
CBS (Sat., Nov. 5, 8:30 p.m. ET)
Didn't it occur to anybody? If the characters in the show are uncomfortable around each other, then it would stand to reason that the audience would be ill at ease too. If everyone in a sitcom is crying, moping and whining, then what makes anybody think we're going to be laughing? Obviously, nobody thought of those things, for CBS went ahead and made Raising Miranda anyway. James (The Good Mother) Naughton stars as a contractor whose hippy-dippy, sprout-eating wife just left him to go find herself in Phoenix. Now he has to bring up their teen daughter, Miranda (Royana Black) alone. Kinda brings tears to your eyes, eh? Well, for comic relief there's Bryan Cranston as a derelict uncle who speaks in a strange combination of Locust Valley lockjaw, Val girl and beatnik cliché—"woo, bummer, man"—and spends his days trying to illegally hook up cable television. I don't know why this character is even on the show. He seems to have wandered in off the street and just stayed. There are also some neighbors—named Hoodenpyle—who come by with casseroles for these poor souls to eat; they end up arguing about whose life is more miserable. And there is the woman in Naughton's office who keeps crying about him. Fun folks. The only laughs in the whole show come from a supporting player—young Amy Lynne as a high school pal. She notes that school counselors do their job by making "whatever you're feeling so boring that you don't have to be upset anymore." But one smiling soul does not a sitcom make. The players in Raising Miranda don't get punch lines, they get stiff-upper-lip lines. "We're all right," Naughton says. "I'm just gonna have to get on with it." The same people who wrote that must have written the show's theme song, which is even harder to take than the one on The Hogan Family: "After all the changes you go through, you will still be you and you don't have to change your dreams." But you're free to change the channel.