'George' isn't likely to knock you out

November 05, 1993|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

George Foreman's acting is almost good enough for 30-second snack food and muffler commercials. But the former heavyweight champ definitely does not have the stuff to star in a 30-minute, weekly sitcom.

Yet that's what will be taking place, starting tonight at 8:30 on WJZ (Channel 13) with the debut of "George."

There is no gentle way to say this: "George" is a mess, and I hope ABC will have the brains to cancel it fast.

The sitcom stars Mr. Foreman as George Foster, a rich and retired boxer who spends most of his time sitting in his easy chair, eating snack foods, watching TV and browsing through catalogs.

At least, that's the George Foster we meet as the pilot opens.

But, when his wife, a high school guidance counselor, berates him for that lifestyle, he goes looking for a new challenge. He finds it working with the "problem students" at his wife's school.

In case anyone out in TV land is not clear on the message, the sitcom literally clanks to a halt midway through so that Mr. Foreman can announce, "A new opponent for the fight of the century: George Foster vs. bad attitude. It will be a knockout."

Let's not belabor this.

When a new fall series debuts this late in the season, it's almost always an indication that something is dreadfully wrong. The pilot for "George" was finished in June. The producers have spent the past three months trying to fix it. And it's still awful.

The trouble with "George" goes beyond Mr. Foreman's failings as an actor. The sitcom portrays the ex-champ as too childish, with a loopy grin on his face at the most inappropriate times. And it offers incredibly simplistic solutions to serious problems.

But one fact that seems to say it all when it co mes to "George" concerns Mr. Foreman the actor.

In an interview last summer, Mr. Foreman said he thought his acting would improve because he was getting acting lessons from Tony Danza, the former star of "Who's the Boss?" and now executive producer of "George."

Acting lessons from Tony Danza?

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