December 12, 1988 12:00 PM

CBS (Wednesdays, 8:30 p.m. ET)


I gave her every chance. CBS wouldn’t let us critics see the premiere of Mary Tyler Moore’s new sitcom, which meant it was a Probable Dog. But I didn’t want to believe that, not about our Mary. So I waited and watched not one or two but three episodes. The verdict: Definite Dog. Here CBS and Annie McGuire do to Mary Tyler Moore what ABC and Life with Lucy did to Lucille Ball two years ago: They humiliate a beloved star. The show turns MTM into a kindly New York bureaucrat (ha!) who marries a guy from New Jersey who’s so nice he’ll remind you of what Phil Donahue used to be like B.G. (Before Geraldo). These poor actors don’t get gags; they get feelings. They get to emote like 10th-grade poets. It is a pathetic sight. Annie McGuire makes the mistake of thinking that Moore is a comic star, a Lucille Ball, instead of what she really is: a great straight woman. Instead of surrounding her with funny folks to whom she could react, the show surrounds her with dull and fuzzy nice people. All Moore can do with them is dither and gush in dorky plots that combine the worst and most unbearably plucky parts of Hooperman and Pippi Longstocking.

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