My favorite scene in this sitcom's Sept. 26 premiere is the one where Hope (Faith Ford) and Faith (Kelly Ripa) take a brief break from their sibling war and sing "High Hopes." Oh, their duet isn't much good, but I liked the Mahatma Gandhi poster on the wall behind them. Not only is it a pretty funny idea—most rare for this show—but it gave me a peaceful thought to cling to during a terribly frantic half hour.
Ripa, of Live with Regis and Kelly and All My Children fame, plays an Emmy-winning former soap-opera star whose twin characters were killed off. Now she's flat broke and forced to live in the Midwestern home of her sister and brother-in-law, Charley (Ted McGinley), and their three children. When Charley describes Faith harshly but accurately, Hope flares.
"Don't call my sister an idiot."
"Why not? You do it all the time."
"That's different. She's family."
I waited for the punch line till I realized that was it. Hope then follows standard sitcom procedure and informs her frustrated hubby that she will not grant him sex.
The pilot makes it abundantly clear that Faith and Hope are opposite personalities—impulsive Hollywood diva vs. controlling suburban supermom. Conflict is inevitable, but did there have to be an all-out food fight in the first episode? However long this show runs, I pray they never top the moment when Faith squirts whipped cream into her mouth and spits it in Hope's face. (Hope, no pacifist, strikes back by screaming that Faith has "fake boobs.")
The problem with going to extremes so early is that you have to pull back mighty fast. Two scenes later, Hope is calling Faith "a really good person" instead of throwing her on the next plane to La-La Land. And that's too bad, because this comedy would have more potential if Ripa's over-the-top character were chewing up a soap-opera set rather than running amok in a Middle American kitchen.