June 30, 1997 12:00 PM

Showtime (Sun., June 29, 9 p.m. ET)


We hate to say this about a TV movie whose characters are threatened by unemployment, but somebody should have fired the dialect coach for overzealousness. The harder these cast members work at maintaining a Gloucester, Mass., accent, the more we’re reminded that they’re acting, not truly toiling in a moribund frozen-fish factory.

Israel Horovitz, who adapted the script from his 1986 Off-Broadway comedy-drama of the same name (and who has a small part as a doctor), gives us a good look at the unappetizing way the plant turns out its product. Prosaic as that may sound, the assembly-line side of the story is more interesting than the human element, in which foreman Tony Danza, known for his hands-on attention to females in the workplace, struggles to keep a lid on his extramarital relationship with feisty employee Mercedes Ruehl while hoping government inspector Wendie Malick won’t notice the corners he’s cutting to keep the business afloat.

Portraying a bit of a heel, Danza is betrayed by his nice-guy sitcom image, just as his Noo Yawk awrigins undermine his Glahstah accent. A miscast Peter Riegert plays it too dumb as Danza’s easygoing right-hand man. There are moments of pointed humor and blue-collar camaraderie, but Fish isn’t much of a catch.

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