Ken Tucker
March 18, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

Maybe we could pass the hat and take up a collection for Ed Asner that would let him retire and not further spoil our memories of him on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. So great during his first incarnation as Lou Grant, Asner has spent the rest of his career doing annoying variations on that character- anyone remember Off the Rack or The Bronx Zoo? The latest version of Lou is Asner’s grumpy-grandpa act in thunder alley (ABC, March 16, 8:30-9 p.m.), a drab sitcom. Asner is Gil Jones, who runs an absurdly neat auto-repair shop; his divorced daughter (Diane Venora) and three grandchildren have recently come to live with him. This leads to scenes such as the one in which Gil tries to convince the grandkids that Hoagy Carmichael’s ”Star Dust” is a great piece of music. Well, it is, of course, but where are the jokes that might have made the moment funny or touching? Not here, not anywhere. D

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