'Something Wilder' needs something more than kid jokes

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

"Something Wilder" will probably raise a chuckle or two, but only from people who are fascinated by discussions of preschool.

The rest of America will likely channel surf in and out, never to return to the NBC sitcom, which premieres at 8 tonight on WMAR (Channel 2) opposite the mighty "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." The series stars the fiftyish Gene Wilder ("Young Frankenstein") as Gene Bergman, a late-in-life father to 4-year-old twins. His wife, Annie (Hillary B. Smith from "One Life to Live"), is considerably younger.

The couple have given up a fast-track, New York lifestyle and moved to New England, where they have opened a small advertising agency and settled in to raise the twins.

A gaggle of relatives seems to live in the area. They drop in nonstop to utter not very amusing remarks about fumigators and "boogers" (yes, the things preschoolers pick from their noses). Most of the non-booger jokes are about the December-May couple not finding time for sex because they have two youngsters in the house.

It's a show that screams cute, starting with Wilder singing the theme song, "You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me." Wilder is as bad a singer as you might fear, but this is probably also to be taken as cute.

Lots of scenes take place in the twins' bedroom and at their preschool. There are at least a half-dozen jokes about the difficulty of finding a good preschool. Cutting edge, it isn't.

It's one of those shows in which the kids not only have the best lines, but also more lines than the adults. In the pilot, there's a particularly tiresome adolescent girl -- I think she's a daughter of someone in the gaggle -- talking about her preschool career ad nauseam. But the real nexus of the plot is which twin gets to take the red lunch box and which one the blue to school.

"Something Wilder" is tame, lame and will likely be history before the twins are 4 years and 1 month old.

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