Picks and Pans Review: Hope & Gloria

updated 03/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/13/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Thursdays, 8:30 p.m. ET)

B

Two residents of a Pittsburgh apartment building meet in the laundry room. The underpowered dryer is about all they have in common. Cynthia Stevenson (Bob) is a queer dear, a flustered timid type trying hard to act outgoing. This florid wallflower is recently separated from a flagrantly cheating husband. Across the hall is a saucy and assertive woman (Jessica Lundy), a hairdresser raising a young son. That means her crass ex-husband (Enrico Colantoni) is around all the time. He comes right out of the Lenny-Squiggy mold.

The sitcom's requisite second setting is a TV station. Stevenson, you see, is the associate producer for a low-budget local talk show hosted by Dennis Dupree (Alan Thicke), an empty suit with a deep voice and an even deeper sense of his own splendor. A great role for Growing Pains' Thicke, Dupree reminds me of a cross between Mary Tyler Moore's Ted Baxter and Rich, Rob Schneider's insufferable copy-room boor from Saturday Night Live. The sitcom also provides an ideal vehicle for Stevenson's squeamish, squinty space-cadet persona.

Smartly conceived and lively, the show exhibits a healthy sense of the absurd. With snappier punch lines, it could be a contender. No buff factor.

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