Picks and Pans Review: Soul Man

updated 12/15/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/15/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

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

C+

So we're living in the past. We still miss the Dan Aykroyd of Saturday Night Live. In the good old late '70s, he used his prodigious talent and energy to become Jimmy Carter one minute, Tom Snyder the next. Today, after a busy but erratic movie career, Aykroyd operates within the limitations of this conventional sitcom. On the Halloween episode, he went trick-or-treating as Julia Child. Otherwise, he's stuck inside the character of Rev. Mike Weber—widower, father of four, Episcopalian minister.

No use complaining about the single-dad element; that's almost obligatory in the late '90s. But Father Mike seems less interested in the church than in motorcycles and rhythm-and-blues, two enthusiasms he happens to share with the actor who plays him. We don't see why Aykroyd doesn't shuck the clerical collar and make a single sitcom parent out of his character from The Blues Brothers. That way he could wear black, get funky and claim to be on a divine mission without spewing hip holy-man lines like "God is the music; we're just the amp."

Somebody must tend to the routine religion on this show, so Father Mike has been given an assistant pastor: Todd Tucker (Anthony Clark), a cartoony counterpart of the pious rookie curate on ABC's Nothing Sacred. Father Todd's foolish orthodoxy is funny at times (in a flash of fantasy, Jesus was seen yawning during his maiden sermon), but our main reason for tuning in is to watch Aykroyd take a light workout—and remember him at the top of his game.

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