Picks and Pans Review: Birdland

updated 01/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/10/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

ABC (Wednesdays, 10 p.m. ET)

B+

Brian Dennehy is a big guy with a big talent. In his third TV series in three decades (viz Big Shamus, Little Shamus and Star of the Family), he finally gets a role commensurate with his stature. Dennehy plays the head of a psychiatric unit at first a New York, then an Oakland hospital. He gives the hospital administrators fits with his disdain for budgets and procedure. And the good doctor's personal life is something of a mess. Bui he's also a healer with an uncommonly common touch.

The show deftly balances the serious and the comic. Dennehy's patients range from the dangerously deranged to a guy who sits in front of the TV set talking intently into his "special pen," convinced he's prompting Kathie Lee Gifford: "Fix your collar, good.... Ask her about her movie."

The show's prognosis is healthy. Vital signs are good.

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