Picks and Pans Review: The Closer

updated 03/02/1998 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/02/1998 01:00AM

CBS (Mondays, 9 p.m. ET)

If you watched the Winter Olympics, you hardly could have avoided the clever promotional spots for The Closer, which had Tom Selleck testing legal, medical and police dramas before choosing this sitcom for his first starring role in series TV since the 1988 passing of Magnum, P.I. We hate rushing to judgment, but the Feb. 23 premiere raises concern that the promos may be funnier than the show. Though never less than engaging, Selleck seems miscast as Jack McLaren, a Denver advertising man known for his ability to close any deal with the perfect pitch. From his reputation, the character should be glib and more than a little intimidating, but Selleck's Jack has a gift of gab that's just average by ad-game standards, and a manner that may be described as casually egotistical. Agency accountant Erica Hewitt (Penelope Ann Miller) and copywriter Bruno Verma (David Krumholtz) refer in the premiere to Jack's supposed Rule No. 1: "Never let the client see you're human." We hope Jack himself never utters those words, because we doubt that Selleck could make us believe them—particularly now that we've seen Jack get teary in a hug-and-make-up scene with his college-age daughter Alex (Hedy Burress). Maybe the Closer should lend his motto to a guy who can really growl it: creative director Carl "Dobbs" Dobson, played by Edward Asner with his patented irascibility.

C

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