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A Review From The NY Times

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Published: March 20, 1986
A NEW series called ''All Is Forgiven'' is being given a ''sneak preview'' on NBC this evening at 9:30 o'clock, following an episode of ''Cheers.'' Both shows, as it happens, are Charles/Burrows/Charles Productions made in association with Paramount Television. The executive producers are James Burrows, Glen Charles and Les Charles, all graduates of the series ''Taxi.'' The point is that, given the right scripts and performers, producing talent will out. Charles/Burrows/Charles appears to have come up with another strong contender for sitcom longevity.

''All Is Forgiven'' stars Bess Armstrong as Paula, who is in the process of acquiring a new husband named Matt (Terence Knox) and a new career with a daytime soap opera entitled - what else? - ''All Is Forgiven.'' Kimberly Hill's script, directed by Mr. Burrows, cleverly sets up the wacky but not unreasonable premises for having a soap opera within a situation comedy within an off-camera soap opera.

At home, Paula has to cope with Matt's 15-year-old daughter Sonia (Shawnee Smith), who is not thrilled with the prospect of acquiring a stepmother. At the office, Paula faces a gallery of odd characters who include Nicolette (Carol Kane), the Southern-belle chief writer; Wendell (Bill Wiley), the fatherly director; Cecile (Judith-Marie Bergan), the demanding star; Sherry (Debi Richter), the harried ingenue; Oliver (David Alan Grier), the television-repairman-turned-script-consultant, and Lorraine (Valerie Landsburg), the maddeningly organized secretary.

The mix is not terribly unusual. It is almost standard sitcom, with one foot anchored in reality and the other tapping out gags. But some shows, obviously, do it better than others. In its very first outing, ''All Is Forgiven'' seems to have the basic choreography mastered. Paula is comfortingly attractive, an intelligent woman with a perspective on life's little lunacies. And most of the gang surrounding her are goofily attractive, convinced that their oddities are the most natural things in the world.

Matt is mildly eccentric, his latest contribution to haute-cuisine culture being Yin-Yang Donuts. Sonia is a bit of a pain, assuming that being a teen-ager has brought her to the highest plateau of wisdom, but she has a winning degree of objectivity. ''Oh, c'mon, Paula,'' she says with a grin, ''these are my bright years - let's both enjoy them.''

Paula gets her job as producer of ''All Is Forgiven'' by default. She happens to be in the office applying for a job when the top position suddenly becomes vacant. Actually, tonight's premiere unintentionally raises a warning signal. The most hilarious bits are contributed by a character, the departing producer, who presumably will not appear again. The harried producer, played by Rick Lenz, is a comic gem, a former yoga instructor reduced to advanced hysteria. ''Stress kills marriages,'' he warns, while proudly pointing out a desk photograph of his former wife. Here, he tells Paula, handing her his bottle of pills, ''You'll need these -just don't operate any heavy machinery.''

He will be missed, but there is more than enough promising dizziness left. Nicolette gives Miss Kane, formerly of ''Taxi,'' a chance to have fun with a daffy drawl. Referring to the former producer, she confides to Paula that ''we disagreed about the content of the show - I thought it should have some.'' Later she squeals: ''Oh, you quoted Tennessee Williams. You can read!'' Things, apparently, are looking up for ''All Is Forgiven,'' both the soap opera and this nicely crafted situation comedy.
Date: Tue June 21, 2005 Filesize: 45.0kb Dimensions: 479 x 353
Keywords: All Is Forgiven


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