Here's yours truly's Sept. 14, 1994, review of "All-American Girl." At the time, I was not aware it was network executives whose meddling ruined the show.

—Scott D. Pierce


When is a good sitcom not such a good sitcom?

In the case of "All-American Girl," after the producers got through fixing it. Tonight's premiere is really very funny. Stand-up comedian Margaret Cho is the title character, a young woman who's a mix of both her traditional Korean upbringing and the influence of modern American culture.

And in tonight's premiere, those two worlds clash in a saucy, sprightly half hour that pits Margaret against her mother (Jodi Long). Long ... is a hoot in the pilot, tossing off some great one-liners and playing her role to the hilt.

Clyde Kusatsu is fine as her father, and B.D. Wong — who won a Tony for his role in "M. Butterfly" — is great as Margaret's older brother.

Cho herself is not a great actress, but with the support of a good cast — and snappy writing — she pulls it off tonight.

But, oddly enough, the series was greatly retooled after this pilot was shot. The episode that airs next week is a decided step down.

The plot is similar — Margaret lets her mother fix her up with a nice Korean boy. But the characters, who have some spark in the first episode, suddenly become sitcom clones.

Instead of dry humor and quick wit, the second episode of "All-American Girl" is full of overwriting, overacting and various histrionics. It's much more akin to some of those awful sitcoms ABC airs on Friday nights than something of quality.

Why? Maybe the early time slot. Maybe focus groups.

Maybe the producers took leave of their senses.

Whatever the reason, after a promising first step, "All-American Girl" stumbles in its second episode. Let's just hope it doesn't fall altogether flat.