Sitcomland and the '90s

July 19, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

This has not exactly been a fine summer for new comedy. But things are looking up a teensy, weensy bit.

"Hi Honey, I'm Home" has an affectionately goofy sense of the essential silliness of life in Sitcomland. It winks at the cliches. It also wallows in the self-conscious wackiness of TV generation nostalgia.

The show, which debuts at 9:30 p.m. Friday on WJZ-TV (Channel 13) and at 8:30 and 11 p.m. Sunday on Nick at Nite, is built around the culture clash of a 1950s TV family coping with life in the 1990s.

So imagine June Cleaver or Donna Reed from the '50s moving in next door to a self-reliant, outspoken single mother in the '90s. That's what happens in the premiere episode, "Meet the TC Nielsens," when big-city divorcee Elaine Duff (Susan Cel

la) and her sons Mike (Pete Penson) and Skunk (Eric Kushnick) encounter their strange new neighbors.

The Nielsens -- homemaker Honey (Charlotte Booker), wage-earning hubby Lloyd (Stephen Bradbury), teen queen daughter Babs (Julie Benz) and earnest son Chucky (Danny Gura) -- are characters from an old '50s sitcom, "Hi Honey, I'm Home." Alas, the show's reruns have just been knocked off the air, so the Nielsens are now part of the Sitcom Relocation Program.

As luck would have it, Mike Duff has long been infatuated with Babs Nielsen, who he has watched on the TV reruns, and he gets in on the Nielsens' secret.

There's the distinct possibility that "Hi Honey, I'm Home" may soon prove to have a one-joke premise. But the cast is a good one. If nothing else, "Hi Honey, I'm Home" should supply some agreeably breezy summertime diversion.

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