In a multiple-viewing mood, I watched the pilot episode of Ink twice: The first time, I thought it stank; the second time, I thought it stank really badly. Now, after further Ink-ing, I remain amazed that a show from TV pros like Ted Danson and writer-producer Diane English can remain so unfunny.
This much-tinkered-with sitcom features Danson and real-life wife Mary Steenburgen as columnnist and managing editor, respectively, of the New York Sun newspaper. Divorced 10 years, they share a teenage daughter (Alana Austin) and a workplace. Danson’s Mike Logan, a womanizing cad, is just a slight variation on his turn as Cheers’ Sam Malone. But I like Danson’s work here a lot, both because he seems so relaxed as an actor and because his increased middle age renders Mike just a bit more poignant — well, okay, pathetic — than Sam was. Steenburgen’s Kate Montgomery is a writer-turned-editor, and we’re supposed to think she’s awkward at her new management role. But Steenburgen also seems awkward delivering breathless punchlines — and with viewers stuck trying to figure out what’s the character and what’s the actress, her slightly stiff performance seems even stiffer.
Austin, however, is lively and charming as the stars’ smart 15-year-old, Abby. In the newsroom, it’s nice to see the always feisty Saul Rubinek as a financial reporter and growly Charlie Robinson as a grumpy crime reporter. But hasn’t English learned from her increasingly exhausted Murphy Brown and her never-had-life Love and War that casting is barely half the battle? That sitcoms require a ceaseless flow of sharply written jokes and repartée? The snippy exchanges between Mike and Kate are tired and formulaic. I’d rather watch a sitcom about the life Abby leads when she escapes the company of her ink-stained-wretch parents. C-