Picks and Pans Main: Tube
Ink (which airs Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET) is so smoothly done, in fact, it is hard to say yet whether it is actually funny. It is more like something you would beam to outer space with a label explaining to aliens that this is how humans assemble a sitcom. The one fresh, intriguing element is Steenburgen, making her series debut. Anyone who has seen her movies, from 1980's Melvin and Howard through last year's Nixon, knows that she is an actress who defies convention. She can come across as scrappy, down-to-earth, neurotically frail and delicately sexy all at the same time. Her voice is unmusical, nasal and thin, but commanding. Putting this sort of ineffable talent into a show as precision-tooled as Ink is risky. In the debut episode, when Steenburgen delivered an impromptu speech introducing herself to the newsroom, it actually felt unrehearsed. But given a monologue that would have been a bravura scene in the hands of a sitcom veteran—a phone conversation with a mad bomber—she seemed to be fighting off hiccups.
Her chemistry with Danson, not surprisingly, is good. As Ink develops, maybe some of his sitcom zing will rub off on her. And maybe he will pick up some of her unforced comic presence.