Picks and Pans Review: Thea
The network promos pretty much hit it on the head: They bill the strict if benevolent matriarch played by comic Thea Vidale in this sitcom as "the mother of all mothers." Temperamentally, she's like one of those ladies who sits in the front pew of a Southern Pentecostal church fanning herself and shouting "Hallelujah!" But when it comes to raising four children by herself, this Houston widow has the advantage of being plugged into some psychic network. She can set one fool inside the threshold, sniff the air and declare with absolute certitude, "There's deception in this house!"
Despite the earthy enthusiasm Vidale brings to the role, predictable writing would quickly render this a monotonous, mannered enterprise. But it does have one rare asset: a beguiling kiddie corps. Thea's engaging offspring, especially the three boys, are leagues above TV's usual addled adolescents and jaded juveniles. There's Adam Jeffries, who was the best thing about the Fox sitcom True Colors, as the oldest; there's Jason Weaver, the one standout in last year's ABC mini, The Jacksons, as the sweet-talking middle son with the smile more beatific than Isiah Thomas's; finally, there's Brenden Jefferson, an adorable lot. Young talent this good deserves the script of all scripts.