Picks and Pans Review: Raising Waylon

updated 03/01/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/01/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

CBS (Sun., Feb. 22, 9 p.m. ET)

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A kid is not just like some heirloom piano that you can leave to two people who don't even get along," says Julia (Without a Trace's Poppy Montgomery). See, even the characters in this TV movie can't believe the premise.

Here's the deal: A nice couple named Beth and Tim die in an accident, and their 9-year-old son Waylon (Jeremy Bergman) is sent to live temporarily with his great-aunt Marie (Doris Roberts, who also plays a Marie on Everybody Loves Raymond) in her retirement village. But Beth and Tim's will stipulates that custody of the boy go to his godparents Reg (Dharma & Greg's Thomas Gibson) and Julia, even though these two are emphatically not a couple, see each other rarely and speak of their one date as a historic disaster.

Why in the world would Beth and Tim make such a plan, knowing they could be consigning their only child to a future filled with conflict? Of course: They wanted to play matchmaker from the grave. The more Julia and Reg's child-raising responsibilities bring them together, the more they feel the mutual attraction they've long denied. And if anyone can't deduce where this thing is going, Waylon is happy to spell it out, "My mom and dad always said that you were right for each other, but...you were just too pigheaded to see it," he tells Reg, as Gibson tries hard to look like a man who has just had a flash of understanding.

The road to the inevitable happy ending is not entirely smooth. A meddlesome couple attempt to wrest custody of Waylon away from Julia and Reg, but they're anal-retentive and comparatively unattractive, so how would you rate their chances? Then there's the tediously feisty Marie, who pops in once in a while to spout off. "I have two cents and I'd like to put them in," she announces to the judge at the climactic custody hearing. I love Roberts on Raymond, but this is an aunt too sure of her greatness.

ROMANTIC COMEDY

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