Bruce Fretts
April 03, 1998 AT 05:00 AM EST

Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place

TV Show
Current Status
In Season
Traylor Howard, Ryan Reynolds, Richard Ruccolo

We gave it a C-

Among this spring’s spate of two-guys-and-a-girl shows (House Rules, Significant Others, et. al.), only one has gobbled up a sizable slice of the Nielsen pie: Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, a Boston-set sitcom that’s just as generic as its title suggests. So what’s the recipe for its success? Like one of Mama Celeste’s frozen ‘zas, it warms over all the old familiar ingredients.

You start with a tomato — Traylor Howard (Boston Common) as Sharon, a too-short-skirted, inexplicably hostile career woman who can’t seem to hold on to a boyfriend. This character is so derivative, they should have named her Elaine McBeal.

Add plenty of saucy humor, courtesy of Sharon’s neighbors — and Pizza Place waiters — Pete (Richard Ruccolo) and Berg (Ryan Reynolds). Single-thin-and-neat Pete attempts to break up with his girlfriend because she laughs maniacally during sex (as Newman might put it: ”Hello, Jerry!”). Hipster doofus Berg earns quick cash by participating in medical experiments (can you say ”Kramer”?).

Now for the extra cheese: M*A*S*H vet David Ogden Stiers plays Mr. Bauer, the pizzeria’s most irregular customer, a guy with no life but loads of useless information (think of Cheers‘ Cliff Clavin). In this case, his head is stuffed with movie scenes, which he’s constantly confusing with his own memories. The gag grows old faster than an unrefrigerated slab of mozzarella.

Finally, put it all on top of a thick layer of crusty pop-culture references. Pizza Place strains to be a fresh twentysomething sitcom a la Friends, but its scripts, overseen by Mad About You cocreator Danny Jacobson, are chockful of stale allusions to Linda Ronstadt and the Apple Dumpling Gang.

And voila: Fromage a trois! C-

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