Want 'Good Advice'?Keep Shelley from chewing the scenery


April 02, 1993|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

"Good Advice" has a bad problem. It stars Shelley Long, who comes up short in tonight's pilot.

Luckily, the sitcom -- which airs at 9:30 p.m. on WBAL (Channel 11) -- features Treat Williams and Christopher McDonald in supporting roles. And they are very good.

Long is in every single scene of this pilot, which appears to be a star vehicle for her. As Susan DeRuzza, Ph.D., she plays a marriage counselor and author of best-selling books.

But her own marriage is a bust, as she finds out tonight. On returning home early from a publicity tour for her book, she catches her husband in bed with another woman. McDonald plays the husband with all the dead-on, exaggerated male-jerk-ness he brought to the role of Louise's husband in "Thelma and Louise."

Williams, who once lighted up the big screen in films like "Hair" and "Prince of the City," plays Jack Harold, a divorce lawyer who shares a suite of offices with DeRuzza. Initially, DeRuzza and Harold seem to have less in common than Dave and Maddie started out with on "Moonlighting," which is the too-obvious idea here. In sitcoms, bicker-bicker always leads to kiss-kiss, which is supposed to lead to seven seasons of will-they-or-won't-they.

Williams spends most of the pilot standing around like a model for GQ while Long flies around the office trying to be the next ZTC Lucille Ball. The best thing that can be said about these scenes is that Williams wears a sports coat and slacks as well as any man on TV.

Bulletin to the producers: Williams is the one with the talent. Let him act -- at least a little.

The fate of the series will rest on how successful the producers are in giving us less star and more of the supporting players in the weeks ahead. Executive producer Danny Jacobson, the co-creator of "Mad About You," is a talented guy.

But Long is the star and, when it comes to her lines and minutes in front of the camera, she has never been an advocate of the less-is-more school of acting.

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