show of the week
"Relentless, obnoxious know-it-all" is how Max Bickford is described in this worthy new drama series. In other words, a role tailor-made for Richard Dreyfuss.
Nothing personal, understand. Dreyfuss just seems so well-suited to playing smart, voluble, abrasive characters. He's totally in his element as Max, a contentious, self-righteous but stimulating history professor at fictional Chadwick College who'll lecture you on anything from the New Deal to the cheese sandwich. Issues? Max has lots. He's a widower and recovering alcoholic with two children, a nice 11-year-old (Eric Ian Goldberg) and a difficult Chadwick freshman (Katee Sackhoff). He just lost a promotion to an ex-Harvard prof (Pollock Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden) who was once his student and lover and now represents a school of thought he can't stand. His best friend (Helen Shaver) on the faculty recently had a sex-change operation, which Max takes as some kind of betrayal.
Clearly, Max has a good deal to learn about parenting, personal relations, even pedagogy. But right or wrong, he's never speechless. That's why Dreyfuss is the man for the job.
Bottom Line: Star power on campus