- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2003

‘Relatively’ speaking

We need another sitcom set in a Boston bar like we need one more show playing up tired homosexual stereotypes.

Viewers get a two-fer at 8:30 tonight with ABC’s new “It’s All Relative.”

The season’s latest culture-clash showdown finds an Irish Catholic bar family bumping into two homosexual parents when their respective children meet and prepare to marry.

The groom to be’s father (Lenny Clarke) is Archie Bunker with a Boston accent. The bride’s two dads — a plot twist explained in the opener — are central-casting homosexuals: witty, urbane and neat. The impending nuptials force the two families to meet, greet and somehow get along.

Reid Scott and Maggie Lawson are fine as the love-struck couple adrift in a sea of hackneyed gags.

John Benjamin Hickey does his best Niles Crane imitation as one of the two adoptive parents, and Mr. Clarke blusters up a storm but nets few laughs.

To be fair, some chuckles squiggle free in the premiere, but viewers sure will feel guilty listening to them escape.

It’s hard to decide who will be more offended by the show’s broad stereotypes.

But who knows? Perhaps watching the show will bond homosexuals and Catholics like never before.

‘Smallville’ flies high

Budding Superman Clark Kent is ready to soar, or at least deal with more youthful flights of fancy, on tonight’s third-season opener of the WB’s “Smallville.”

Clark (Tom Welling) is still under the spell of a mysterious ring as the new season begins, complicating his relationship with the lovely Lana (Kristin Kreuk).

Viewers just catching on to the reconfigured superhero saga can check out “Smallville: The Complete First Season,” retailing for $64.95 on DVD.

The DVD package includes all 21 episodes, deleted scenes, extensive commentary tracks, episode storyboards and a virtual tour of Smallville, the town.

Mr. Welling is the man who would be made of steel, still feeling his way through his high school years. Like the movie version perfectly embodied by Christopher Reeve, Mr. Welling blends a superhero build with a clumsy outer shell crafted by his well-meaning parents (John Schneider and Annette O’Toole — who played Clark Kent’s love interest in “Superman III”).

The series eschews the funny red-and-blue suit and superhuman powers in favor of the smaller dramas of growing up with a secret no one else can share. Of course, it wouldn’t be Superman if he didn’t have to deal with some pretty formidable baddies. The first season teems with them, including a young Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum).

‘Sisco’ scores

Before Jennifer Lopez became the obsession of gossip mongers everywhere, she starred in 1998’s “Out of Sight,” a slick caper directed by Steven Soderbergh.

Miss Lopez’s character now has her own ABC show, a one-hour cop drama starring Carla Gugino (of the “Spy Kids” trilogy fame).

“Karen Sisco,” debuting at 10 tonight opposite NBC’s venerable “Law & Order,” tries to pile on the panache like the Elmore Leonard novel from which the character was adapted.

The opener finds Karen, a gorgeous U.S. Marshal, falling for a man (Patrick Dempsey) who may or may not be the kind of thief she bags for a living. She gets constant feedback from her father, a private investigator given rumpled charm by Robert Forster (“Jackie Brown”). She also has her commanding officer (Bill Duke) for support, a novel twist in a genre known for dyspeptic superiors. Casting Mr. Duke proves sublime, too. The character actor sets more thoughts in motion with a single heavy gaze than most actors can generate with a page of dialogue.

The first episode strains to re-create the kind of style today’s major features display, but the second flashes wittier dialogue and has a more uniformly appealing look.

Miss Gugino is lovely and gritty all at once, and the show’s father-daughter chats alone are worth tuning in to hear.

“Karen Sisco,” like its star, has legs.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide