The 1991 Fall TV Preview: Wednesday |


The 1991 Fall TV Preview: Wednesday

The 1991 Fall TV Preview: Wednesday -- All of the information you need on this seasons new and returning shows

The Royal Family
Redd Foxx stars as Al Royal, an Atlanta mailman who grouses and wisecracks his way through life with his lovable but argumentative wife, played by Della Reese. The happy squabblers’ life is disrupted when their daughter and three grandchildren move in with them. The Royal Family is standard-issue generation-gap comedy, and the writing is on the level of ”I like a full-figured woman — that way, if we lose the house, we can live in your bloomers.” But the real chuckles here emanate from Foxx, 68, whose growly delivery and deadpan double takes are still in excellent form.

Behind the scenes
This season, The Royal Family will introduce a new epithet to the TV dictionary: When Foxx’s Al gets fed up, he barks, ”Oh, motherfather!” Is it too close for comfort? ”Who else would you call on when you’re in trouble?” Foxx said this summer. ”Mother. Father.” In fact, that kind of family appeal is exactly why CBS is betting heavily on The Royal Family; the show’s pilot reportedly tested better with viewers both young and old than any CBS sitcom in years. As for the almost-bad language, Foxx claims that ”every comedian on earth is dirtier than me now.” And one of them, Eddie Murphy, is this show’s co-executive producer.

Chance of survival
Redd Foxx vs. Dinosaurs is this year’s most intriguing comedy duel, and many bet on The Royal Family to win. If ratings are low, look for CBS to move it to another night.

Currently, television’s favorite way of showing African-Americans in upper-middle-class settings is to make them social interlopers — funny fish-out-of-water, whether it’s on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or the new Teech. Phill Lewis plays a music teacher who takes a job at an all-white boarding school for boys. The headmaster (Steven Gilborn) hires him with great reluctance — his racism is undisguised — but ”Teech” Gibson soon wins over both his bosses and his rambunctious class. Lewis is a charming actor who can do an excellent impersonation of Duke Ellington — the only one we’ve ever seen, in fact — and Maggie Han is both funny and demurely sexy as the headmaster’s assistant. Once it gets its race relations hammered out, Teech could develop into a solid ensemble comedy piece.

Behind the scenes
The pilot of Teech is filled — perhaps cluttered — with jokes about race, several of which have to do with Teech being mistaken for a blue-collar worker by his colleagues. That came as a surprise to one prominent newspaper TV critic who watched the pilot this summer, then indignantly insisted to Lewis at a press conference that ”we simply don’t look at black people and stereotype them” in America. ”No matter how nice my car is,” responded Lewis, ”the lady in the car next to me will always lock her doors. You tell me what that’s about.” That kind of tension may inform the series. ”There is so much ignorance that it doesn’t shock me anymore,” Lewis later told Entertainment Weekly about his exchange with the reviewer. ”It just hurts me.”

Chance of survival
Slim. If it’s perceived to be dragging down CBS’ more promising Royal Family, Teech probably won’t be given tenure.