The folks at NBC want you to get to know Blossom Russo. Right away. On intimate terms.
In the first scene of the new sitcom "Blossom" (premiering tonight at 8:30 on Channel 2), 14-year-old Blossom (Mayim Bialik) tries to overcome her embarrassment to buy a box of tampons.
Blossom frets about telling her divorced dad she has entered puberty, and moans that her mom lives so far away in Paris, and worries about which brand of tampons to buy without mommy's assistance. It's gripping stuff.
When Blossom finally announces her news to her musician dad Nick (Ted Wass of "Soap"), reflects in sentimental style, "Where was I when you grew up?" Then dad, in a swift move, promptly tells her two goofy brothers she has gotten her period. Blossom is mortified.
In the next episode, to air in the sitcom's regular 8:30 p.m. time slot next Monday, the Russo men will fret about whether Blossom will be deflowered. She starts seeing Bobby, an older, experienced boy, and Blossom's brother Joey (Joey Lawrence of "Gimme a Break") alerts dad that Bobby "scores with every girl he goes out with." It's like something out of an old Doris Day movie.
After Dad momentarily vetoed letting Blossom go to the prom, a 13-year-old watching the show with me said, in exasperation, "Funny how they try to get your sympathy and you don't even care."
Yes, and funny how instant intimacy doesn't work. Television characters, like real people, need to be introduced slowly, and some time should elapse before the private particulars of their lives are revealed. "Blossom" rushes the process.
Michael Stoyanov plays Blossom's other brother, Anthony, a recovering drug addict, and -- egad! -- the show even tries to exploit that situation for humor. It's not funny.
Mayim Bialik, who played Bette Midler as a youngster in "Beaches," is a delightful performer, but she must overdo the girlishness. Wass is refreshingly restrained as the usually understanding father.
In tonight's episode, Eileen Brennan ("Private Benjamin") plays a crotchety woman who comforts Blossom and also announces, "I've had six wonderful husbands -- four of them were my own." Gee.
The best bit in tonight's show has Blossom imagining her mother is Phylicia Rashad of "The Cosby Show." It's an inspired idea, but the jokes aren't there to back it up.
"Blossom" is certainly an improvement over "Ferris Bueller," the dopey show it's replacing. But unless creator Don Reo ("Lenny") and his writers come up with some funnier material, "Blossom" will be stomped by CBS' "Major Dad."
The 13-year-old critic's verdict after watching two episodes: "I'd have more fun watching paint dry."