NBC (Saturdays, 8 P.M. ET)
This sitcom starring Cosbyite Malcolm Jamal Warner as a graduate student in Manhattan is trapped in a dilemma. When it focuses on Warner as the mentor to a bunch of young kids at the Harlem community center where he works, the show is dull and morally didactic. When it loosens up to pose Warner as an innocent facing big-city perils or pursuing romance, it must contend with the fact that the star has precious little comic ability.
So this stuck-in-the-mud comedy slogs along, never able to establish a firm identity or generate laughs. Recently the show introduced Jessica Stone as Warner’s Southern classmate. Bringing aboard a major character in mid-season is always an implicit admission that a show isn’t working. A big part of the problem is artificial writing, as when one of Warner’s wards swears him to secrecy and then jestingly confides, “I shot a man in Reno.” Yeah, right. Like an 8-year-old in Harlem would be quoting from old Johnny Cash songs. Probably just couldn’t think of an appropriate Buck Owens lyric.