Picks and Pans Review: Cybill

updated 01/16/1995 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/16/1995 01:00AM

CBS (Mondays, 9:30 p.m. ET)

B+

Cybill Shepherd (Moonlighting) plays Cybill Sheridan, a knockabout, middle-aged, twice-divorced actress with kids (nudge me when she has to start acting). Her two exes (Alan Rosenberg and Tom Wopat) are still very much in the picture, complicating her dating life enormously.

In Cybill's hectic life, the press release informs us, "her only reprieve" is her cynical confidante (Christine Baranski). The Broadway veteran is certainly the viewer's best refuge. Baranski plays the role of the boozy, bitchy, manicured best friend with such delightful, vehement flair (drinking martinis out of a plastic sports squeeze bottle), she seems to have tottered in directly from TV's den of decadence, Absolutely Fabulous.

Shepherd handles the romantic banter quite well. For instance, when a man (Tim Matheson) strikes up a conversation from an adjoining convertible on a gridlocked freeway, she quips, "Sorry, I only date guys from the car-pool lane." But so far, Shepherd isn't particularly adept at the other comic demands of her role: the double takes, the slowly dawning reactions, the ironic deliveries and other tricks of the trade.

This sitcom's ambience is the most showbizzy this side of The Larry Sanders Show, but in a cheesy way. (I'm still trying to decide who has the wilder walk-through in this week's episode: George Hamilton or Erik Estrada.) This amusing sitcom radiates a zippy tartness. At one point, Shepherd, sitting at home and watching herself do a Hart to Hart cameo on the tube, notes, "To actors there are no small parts, only small checks."

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