'Hoover' puts the brain on cruise control

TELEVISION REVIEW

November 09, 1991|By Michael Hill

"Charlie Hoover" seems designed to appeal to the people who think beer commercials are the highest form of visual art.

This new Fox sitcom is the second show from that network to feature the internal mechanisms of the psyche come to life. The other, Sunday night's "Herman's Head," occasionally takes forays into the title character's brain to watch various parts of his personality debate the proper course of action.

In "Charlie Hoover," which premieres tonight at 9 on Channel 45 (WBFF), the milquetoast Charlie, played by Tim Matheson, has an alter ego only he can see -- the 12-inch-tall Sam Kinison, whose character is, for some reason, named Hugh.

For those not familiar with Mr. Kinison's stand-up routine, this former regular on the evangelist circuit gets huge laughs by SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS. With good timing, of course.

Fox provided only the second episode, which will air next week, for critics' perusal. But the plot of tonight's show -- Charlie confronts his boss after being egged on by Hugh -- was used in a Los Angeles presentation screened for critics last summer.

It appears from Hugh's actions in the second show -- when he urges Charlie to forget his work obligations and splurge on a night out with his wife on their 10th anniversary -- that some conceptual changes have been made to the show since last summer.

Hugh is no longer simply a lusty representation of the id; his role instead is to urge Charlie to fulfill his needs and dreams, not just kowtow to the whims of others. You might look at Hugh as a primal scream counselor.

But the bottom line on Hugh's message to Charlie is: Go for the gusto. And that makes him appeal to those who look to beer commercials for a philosophy to live by.

Fox has teamed "Charlie Hoover" with the return of "Get a Life," which comes back at 9:30 tonight. That's the show that has Chris Elliott as a 35-year-old paperboy living at home.

The network seems to be targeting that all-important demographic, the people whose heroes are characters that like to put the brain in neutral and leave it there as much as possible.

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