On 'Sister, Sister,' the twins aren't the only ones with talent

April 01, 1994|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

"Sister, Sister" is a winner, winner.

It's not going to impress a lot of adults as the deepest show on TV. But, as an ABC-TGIF teen-and-'tween sitcom, it's got it all and then some.

First, there's scheduling. The series about 13-year-old twin sisters debuts tonight with two episodes -- one after "Family Matters," and the other after "Step by Step."

Its regular time slot for the rest of the TV season will be at 9:30 Fridays after "Step By Step," which is usually a top 20 Nielsen show. "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper" -- which has been riding those coattails -- will have to find another place to hang come next fall.

Then, there are the stars. The featured players are Tia and Tamera Mowry, who play twins named Tia and Tamera. The premise of "Sister, Sister" is that the twins were separated at birth and given up for adoption. Tonight, they are reunited accidentally -- where else, but at a shopping mall? The Mowry twins are two of the most talented and easiest to like teen actors in prime time.

But, while featured, they are not the major talent here. Tim Reid and Jackee Harry play the adoptive parents. Reid plays Tamera's father, an upper-middle-class entrepreneur living in the suburbs of Detroit. Harry is Tia's mom, a struggling seamstress living in the inner city.

Some of the funnier moments in tonight's episodes come from the class differences between Reid and Harry.

"Are you worried about being in this neighborhood?" Harry asks a nervous Reid when he and Tamera first visit her apartment.

"No, not at all. It's a great neighborhood. I come down here whenever I want to buy my car radio back," he says.

There's a running joke about his exasperation at her continually quoting daytime talk-show hosts, as if they were the source of all wisdom.

"A very wise man once said, 'Out of adversity comes some of life's finest moments,' " Harry says.

"That's a good quote," Reid replies, impressed.

"Um-hmm, that Montel Williams is a very clever man," she says proudly.

One other fact about "Sister, Sister" is important. It's one of the few network sitcoms about African-Americans that's produced by an African-American woman. The executive producer is Suzanne de Passe, the former Motown executive also responsible for "Lonesome Dove."

That fact is surely one reason the characters in the pilot feel like real people instead of one-dimensional cardboard figures -- the way black people are depicted in many sitcoms. It also probably has something to do with the show being about girls coming of age, instead of boys.

Hear! Hear! "Sister, Sister."

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