Ken Tucker
February 04, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

I love the rambling, loosey-goosey jazz piano that supplies the theme music for Birdland. The show itself? Eh, it’s not bad. Brian Dennehy, who apparently everyone in America thinks is the most lovably ursine actor alive, stars as a hospital’s chief of psychiatry, Brian McKenzie. He plays the ponies, wears a nice long camel’s-hair coat, never shows up for staff meetings on time, and is romancing a much younger doctor played by Lindsay Frost. He is, in short, your typical rule-breaking TV hero.

But Birdland is also your typical TV medical show, filled with eccentric patients (an old man who is convinced he has X-ray vision, for example) and a motley hospital staff that includes a fatuous administrator (John Rothman) and a dippy nurse (Leslie Mann). So far, the fine C.C.H. Pounder has been wasted on the role of a grumpy nurse, but Dennehy and Frost are solid, good, charming. If only Birdland’s story lines had as much sly, low-down zip as its theme song. B-

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