New sitcoms aren't likely to bring happy days back to ABC
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The Orlando Sentinel (MCT) - How did ABC lose the gift for sitcoms?
The network of "Bewitched," "Happy Days" and "Barney Miller" can't come up with a half-hour hit these days. It's a pity, because a blockbuster sitcom like "Roseanne" or "Home Improvement" could lift the Disney-owned network.
ABC dramas "Grey's Anatomy," "Lost" and "Brothers & Sisters" continue to connect with young adults. "Dancing With the Stars" has revived ABC on Mondays.
But the network is limping in comedy. "Desperate Housewives" has turned dramatic lately, and "Ugly Betty" is waning. Despite adorable Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?" hasn't achieved hit status
Four new comedies don't seem likely to help ABC.
The best of the four is "Cupid," which debuts at 10 p.m. Tuesday. It isn't exactly new, either. This remake of a 1998 fantasy follows Trevor Pierce (Bobby Cannavale), who claims he's Cupid and says he must unite 100 couples to regain entry to Mount Olympus. (One hundred couples would translate into a five-year run.)
Dr. Claire McCrae (Sarah Paulson), an uptight psychiatrist, tries to reason with Trevor with little success. He's just a wild and crazy god when it comes to love.
The mediocre premiere presents two major problems. The first couple that Trevor helps _ an Irish musician (Sean Maguire) and a New York reporter (Marguerite Moreau) _ are more intriguing than Trevor and his shrink.
The remake isn't as charming as the original, which paired Jeremy Piven as Cupid and Paula Marshall as his doctor. Both have gone on to other comedies: He to HBO's "Entourage," she to CBS' "Gary Unmarried."
"In the Motherhood," which airs at 8 p.m. Thursdays and debuted last week, represents ABC's feeble attempt to transform a successful Web series into a sitcom. The main problem: The three moms are mighty annoying.
In the premiere, Rosemary (Megan Mullally) faked a pregnancy to gain attention. Jane (Cheryl Hines) lied to her children and her manny (Horatio Sanz). Emily (Jessica St. Clair) leveled with her young children with disastrous results.
The lame comedy made me long for a lovable mom _ say Marion Cunningham of "Happy Days" _ and to see Hines back on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." But I did want to know more about Sanz's diet and exercise plan. He looks marvelous.
"Better Off Ted," which airs at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, debuted a couple of weeks ago and has largely been ignored by the audience. And for good reason: This sendup of corporate life is no "Office" or "30 Rock."
Good guy Ted (Jay Harrington) is just too bland, and heartless villain Veronica (Portia de Rossi) constantly upstages him. The show sabotages its wackiness by shifting to single dad Ted's sweet daughter. ABC hasn't helped the show by slotting it after "Scrubs," which the audience has rejected. The prognosis: "Better Off Ted" will be dead soon.
"Surviving Suburbia," which debuts at 9:30 p.m. April 6, brings back Bob Saget of "Full House." He plays a cynical dad, but his acid outlook isn't enough to juice up this blah comedy, which was originally slated for The CW. Picking up comedy from the CW _ that tells you how far ABC is from its "Happy Days" heyday.
The show is likely to be sampled because it will follow "Dancing With the Stars." But nothing in "Surviving Suburbia" is as amusing as "Dancing" host Tom Bergeron's quips or judge Bruno Tonioli's remarks. These days, ABC can't deliver the comedy in sitcoms.
Hal Boedeker: firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2009, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
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