The Nashville Network's attempt to revive the TV variety show has resulted in this curious, not unamusing, time-warp example of the genre; in every way, The Statler Bros. Show looks as if it was filmed in, say, the early '70s. Each show features the smooth country-music quartet harmonizing on an opening song and delivering a few amiably dopey jokes. The group's featured guest is invariably a solid, middle-of-the-road country act like Barbara Mandrell, Conway Twitty, or, this week, the Oak Ridge Boys. A typical introduction goes like this: ''When you play this good and sing this good, you don't have to be this pretty, but she is ladies and gentlemen, Suzy Bogguss!'' The Statler Bros. Show also has its own resident vocalists, Janie Fricke and Rex Allen Jr., as well as an old-fashioned corn-pone comedian, Royce Elliott (''My wife is such a rotten cook we pray after we eat!'').
Maybe it's because there hasn't been a show like this in so long, but I find The Statler Bros. Show to be lovable fluff. It displays an unabashed urge to entertain that makes its corniness endearing there's no irony, no winking at the audience, no lip-synching. Heck, these guys even conclude each show with a seriously sung gospel song. How can you not be charmed? B