Picks and Pans Review: Phenom

updated 10/04/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/04/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ABC (Tuesdays, 8:30 p.m. ET)


Judith Light stars in this new sitcom as a single mom whose 15-year-old (Angela Goethals) has tournament-level tennis talent. In a neurotic fashion, Light is trying to prevent athletics from robbing her daughter of a normal teenage experience.

Well, to extend the tennis metaphor, the show attacks the net aggressively, but has trouble volleying and tends to overhit everything it reaches. Light overacts even more than she did on Who's the Boss? Goethals is clearly talented but patently artificial. And William Devane (Knots Landing) succeeds all too well at being grating as ferocious. Captain Queeg-like tennis coach Lou Della Rosa.

The writing can be funny, but all too often disrupts its own comic rhythms with harsh humor, as when Light hisses, "I know I shouldn't be bitter just because your father left his family to go find his smile."

Then, too, the supporting characters are terribly contrived, starting with Light's self-loathing 21-year-old son and his girlfriend, a cynical 40-year-old divorcee trapped in a teenager's body. "What a package," she says of her near-catatonic squeeze. "He has a 28-inch waist and doesn't mind being dominated by women."

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