Fox's 'Shaky Ground' no great shakes

December 12, 1992|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

"Shaky Ground," a new sitcom premiering tomorrow night on the Fox network (7:30 p.m., WBFF-Channel 45), actually rests on old, familiar turf. Whether the show clicks with viewers depends on how they react to star Matt Frewer.

Most recently he played the title role in the clever "Doctor, Doctor" on CBS, and before that portrayed the electronically trapped "Max Headroom" on ABC. He also was Rick Moranis' nutty neighbor in the film "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids."

"Shaky Ground" offers another showcase for his oddly manic mannerisms, played against the oldest of sitcom scenarios: the family/work setting.

But this is Fox, remember, so some trademark things out of the "Married . . . With Children" bag come along, too -- namely, obnoxious kids and coarse or suggestive humor.

Mr. Frewer, as an aerospace industry worked named Bob Moody -- get it? he's a moody kind of guy -- enters the show with a bathroom joke. Soon comes a body odor joke from obnoxious kid No. 1 (Matthew Brooks as son Carter), and somewhat later we hear a PMS joke from Bob's wife Helen (Robin Riker).

At work, of course, Bob has a problem boss (Alex Nevil, whom viewers will remember as the little executive who wooed Rebecca on "Cheers" a few seasons back), and a good buddy who is usually exasperated by Bob's antics. (One nice touch: The friend is an upscale black engineer played by Harold Sylvester.)

Tonight's premiere plays pretty predictably, too, as Bob quits his job, only to learn a lesson in responsibility provided by his son's behavior problems.

At times, viewers may find Mr. Frewer fun to watch. But "Shaky Ground" may actually be on shaky ground unless future episodes come up with fresher material.

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ALSO ON THE WEEKEND WATCH:

* You don't need much more than the promotional slogan to know the general approach of "Dead Ahead: The Exxon Valdez Disaster," an original movie premiering tonight on the HBO premium cable network (at 8 o'clock, with repeats Dec. 15, 18, 21, 24 and 27).

"What happened was a disaster. What happened next was even worse," says the advertising. The "behind-the-scenes" movie, starring Christopher Lloyd and John Heard, explores the oily aftermath of the March 1989 grounding of an oil tanker off the coast of Alaska.

* WBAL-Channel 11's new monthly news magazine program "11 TV Hill" tonight offers a trio of stories (at 10 o'clock).

With host anchors Rod Daniels and Carol Costello, the show includes features on Baltimore homeless activist Bea Gaddy, the dangers of becoming addicted to inhalant chemicals and the work of Maryland paramedics.

* The WMAR-Channel 2 weekly magazine show "2 the Point" tomorrow (11:30 a.m.) offers a special edition about teen-age alcoholism. Horace Holmes presides before a studio audience of teens and a panel of experts. A repeat is planned at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 19.

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FUND GOAL DROPPED -- Because of slow viewer pledges by the mid-point of its current winter fund drive, Maryland Public Television this week shortened its sights in the pledge period ending tomorrow.

At the halfway point earlier this week, said MPT spokeswoman Elizabeth Malis, the drive that began Dec. 3 had drawn only $183,354 in pledges. Thus the original $500,000 target was dropped to $400,000.

She said other PBS outlets across the nation also have reported slow pledge responses this month.

However, MPT also announced yesterday that results of November "people meter" ratings show MPT to be the fourth most-watched TV outlet in the Baltimore region.

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