Television has always been full of domestic comedies. Beginning last night, ABC provides us with three domestic comedies wrapped up in one package - "Married People."
The series was "previewed" on Tuesday night. It moves into its regular time slot this evening at 8:30 p.m.Three different couples in three different stages of life inhabit a Manhattan brownstone in this sitcom. Downstairs, it's the owners of the building, Nick and Olivia (Ray Aranha and Barbara Montgomery). A black couple that's been married for more than 30 years, they own the building and a small grocery nearby.
On the second floor, it's yuppies Russell and Elizabeth (Jay Thomas and Bess Armstrong). He's a freelance writer who works at home; she's a successful - and pregnant - lawyer.
And as the series began, newlywed teens Allen and Cindy (Chris Young and Megan Gallivan) moved into the attic apartment. Just out of high school, he enrolled at Columbia and she's looking for a job.
There's plenty of talent here. Aranha and Montgomery are both fine actors. Thomas has come a long way since he was the deli owner on "Mork & Mindy." He's created two memorable supporting characters on hit television comedies recently - Eddie LeBeq on "Cheers" and Jerry Gold on "Murphy Brown."
Happily, Armstrong (All's Fair) is back on TV again. And Young is a far better actor than all those teen magazine covers might lead you to believe.
Gallivan is the weak link on camera, but my-oh-my is she perky.
But the real problems may lie behind the scenes. The co-creators and executive producers are husband-and-wife team Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser - and their resumes aren't exactly a list of raging successes.
They've worked together as writers on the weak "Alice," bombs like "Mama Malone" and "Oh Madeline," and later wrote for and produced "Who's the Boss?"
And the other two shows they've created were the rather ridiculous "The Charmings" - Prince Charming and Snow White in a modern setting - and the teenage sex-farce "Live-In." (Young also starred in that disaster.)
While "Married People" isn't a disaster, it doesn't exactly sparkle. It's pretty predictable and makes some rather obvious attempts to be "adult" - references to the oversexed teenagers and one amazingly out-of-context expression used by the older women in the final moments of last night's pilot.
Here's hoping they resist the urge to pull that kind of stunt again.
But it's largely inoffensive and with some luck - and some writing talent that isn't in evidence yet - it could amount to something.
CAUGHT IN A LIE: Megan Gallivan, a former Laker Girl, is fairly new to the acting profession. But, hopefully, she's already learned it's not a good idea to lie to the press.
During this summer's television critics' press tour, Gallivan was asked about being discovered as a Laker Girl and moving into acting.
"You don't become discovered being a Laker Girl," Gallivan responded. "I mean, the whole acting thing happened from a totally different perspective. It didn't happen because I was a Laker Girl."
The questioner then pointed out that it said in her ABC bio that she had indeed been "discovered" by an agent during an NBA game.
After hemming and hawing, hiding her head in her hands and looking very much as if she wanted to sink into the floor, Gallivan finally admitted, "So, I lied."
At least maybe she learned that if she's going to lie, she ought to check her bio first.