OK, it has been half a season. Isn't it time to say that "Designing Women" just isn't as funny without Delta Burke and Jean Smart? Media Monitor wants to hear from readers about the show, which can be seen at 9:30 tonight on Channel 11.
To recap: After a season of turmoil involving Burke on and off the set, some of it centering on her weight problems, Burke departed the show. Her character, Suzanne Sugarbaker, is supposedly off living in Japan.
Smart, the sweet Southerner Charlene, also left the show for family reasons, after having a baby. On screen, she has gone to live with serviceman husband Bill in Europe, and may be seen in occasional pop-in performances.
Replacing the pair this fall were Julia Duffy, as an arrogant Sugarbaker cousin, and Jan Hooks, as Charlene's dumb sister Carlene.
Surprisingly, the show has remained in the Top 10 series this season, apparently indicating viewers have accepted the shuffled cast. But it is hard to figure.
Neither of the newcomers has managed to become very believable. And the worst thing about the changes is what has happened to the character of Anthony, played by the underrated Meshach Taylor.
Anthony and Suzanne, a former prison inmate and a one-time beauty queen, provided the show's funniest moments in the early seasons, striking an odd friendship that produced some memorable physical humor -- such as when Anthony convalesced at Suzanne's house and she began making him over.
So what do you think? There is no hope Burke will come back, apparently, for ABC recently signed her to a development contract for a fall series, subject yet to be determined.
In a brief note or card, write your thoughts on the new "Designing Women." Better? Worse? We'll sample representative opinion in a few weeks. Write: Media Monitor/Steve McKerrow, The Evening Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, 21278, or fax: 332-6666.
ALSO NOTABLE TONIGHT:
* Arguably among television's most influential productions ever, the 1977 miniseries "Roots" is getting a full six-part re-screening on basic cable's Family Channel this week.
The dramatization of author Alex Haley's search for his family's history begins at 8 p.m. tonight and runs daily through Saturday in the time period.
* Former "Saturday Night Live" regular Dennis Miller's new syndicated talk show debuts at 12:30 a.m. tonight on WBAL-Channel 11. His first scheduled guest are movie stars Tom Hanks and Christian Slater.
And note that viewers with access to Washington's WDCA-Channel 20 can catch the show at 11 p.m.