03/06/1989 at 01:00 AM EST
PBS (Wed., March 1, 9 P.M. ET)
Love and Other Sorrows is a by-the-numbers, cookie-cutter, coming-of-age tale set in the '50s. It's about a teenage boy (Stephen Mailer) who is searching for true love while his beautiful sister (Haviland Morris) searches for a rich husband to satisfy their nagging mom (Elizabeth Franz). What is supposed to set this stock tale apart is that it is adapted from a short story by Harold Brodkey, a darling of the New Yorker set. But the script is filled with even stiffer speech than the story. For example: "Is there any lemonade left?" asks the brother. And the sister replies, "Your posture's terrible." This is how we real people are supposed to talk—in non sequiturs. The script also dishes up horrible cultural clichés: The sister turns down a date by telling the boy, "I'm washing my hair tomorrow." And the mother humbles her daughter by saying, "Your looks won't last forever, you know." Love and Other Sorrows is a show built on a reputation, and not much more.