Tom Gliatto
March 17, 1997 12:00 PM

ABC (Wednesdays, 9:30 p.m. ET)

B-

Former talk show host Arsenio Hall, in his return to television, gets a sitcom. He plays a newly married Atlanta sportscaster. In the March 5 premiere episode, Arsenio’s wife (Independence Day’s Vivica A. Fox) fails to make partner at her law firm. Arsenio, thinking she means it when she says she just wants to be alone for a while, goes off to a bar and has some beers. You’re in trouble now, Arsenio!

Hall is likably playful and brings a boyish bounce to all his scenes, but his is not a strong comic personality. Arsenio will have to rely on his interaction with the rest of the ensemble, which, so far, includes a lazy, Harvard-educated brother-in-law (Alimi Ballard), a stocky colleague (Kevin Dunn) and a spunky-punky blonde from next door (Shawnee Smith). Keep hiring.

The pilot had troubles—producer David Rosenthal fought with his star and quit—which may in part account for its lack of pep.

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