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Laurie Hill aired from September until October 1992 on ABC.

A brilliant sensitive woman put up with boorish, self-centered men in this short-lived and rather stereo-typed comedy/drama. Dr. Laurie Hill ( DeLane Matthews) nearly glowed with nobility as she juggled her hectic roles as pediatrician and mother, while hubby Jeff ( Robert Clohessy), a freelance writer, sat around the house all day poking at his computer and spoiling their young son Leo ( Eric Lloyd). Noisy but lovable Leo just wanted to know why Mom didn't stay home and pay attention to him. At work Drs. Spencer and Walter(Kurt Fuller, Joseph Maher) were hardly less demanding, but at least their were soul sisters in Nurse Nancy ( Ellen DeGeneres), and receptionist Beverly ( Doris Belack).

An Article from the Washington Post

By Tom Shales September 13, 1992

Another autumn, I've known the chill before,

But ev'ry autumn, I feel it more and more. -- Alan Jay Lerner

We're talking excitement, we're talking adventure, we're talking laughs and tears and thrills and spills. We're talking a whole new way to look at the world.

Okay, now that we've finished that, let's talk about the new TV season.

No, it is not going to be a season delirious with possibilities. It will be a season delirious with probabilities -- silly sitcoms, semi-smutty dramas, tales of the young and the stupid and the incredibly fashion-conscious. But then, you weren't expecting a renaissance, were you?

Well, were you?

At this point it would be unrealistic to be disappointed in new fall seasons. They haven't amounted to much for at least a decade, maybe longer. For one thing, the whole ritual is an anachronism. Changes wrought throughout Television Land have made the idea nearly obsolete, what with new shows premiering all year long, and regular networks joining cable networks in using summers as launch windows.

For what it's worth, CBS among the four broadcast networks is likely to be first in the prime-time ratings for the second straight season and has, by a narrow margin, the most attractive slate of newcomers. It also can boast the only two shows expected to be hits from the outset, the sitcoms "Hearts Afire" and "Love and War," both better than average and both joining the already formidable CBS Monday night lineup.

With the insipid "Major Dad" exiled to Fridays and "Designing Women" relocated there as well, CBS's Monday is even more clearly TV's mightiest night of the week. Sunday and Monday are TV's most-watched nights, so by retaining its dominance on both, CBS is ahead of the game even as the opening whistle is blown.

Television is still the everybody medium. But more than ever this year, shows (and in some cases networks) are targeted to specific demographic groups: teenagers, 'tweenagers, twenty-, thirty- and fortysomethings. You can gauge which group is targeted by the vintage of the rock oldies heard on the soundtracks. Both NBC and Fox have aimed low, age-wise, going after the youngest viewers. CBS claims it doesn't mind having the oldest-skewing audience, yet that network has also scheduled its share of Foxy youthy fluff.

One also scans the lists of the new fall series in quest of Quayle Bait, the kinds of programs that might antagonize those who agree with the vice president that TV fare is lacking in "family values" and spends too much time promoting whatever the opposite of that may be.

Dan Quayle has taken considerable ridicule and scorn for launching his crusade, if that's what it is. Hostile Hollywood reaction peaked with a slew of anti-Quayle cracks at this year's agonizingly terrible Emmy Awards show, and it continues in the smattering of Quayle jokes sprinkled through the new-season entries.

A case can be made, and it wouldn't take much making, that Quayle's attack on Hollywood was prompted far more by political opportunism than by honest conviction. But for many viewers, Quayle's complaint has validity, if Quayle himself does not. They feel that in Hollywood, "wholesome" has become a dirty word and that political correctness takes precedence over any sort of moral center.

And indeed, looking over the pilots for new fall shows, you don't find a lot of positive, cheering, salutary stuff there. Only a few new shows feature traditional, two-parent families. Among them are ABC's heartwarming "Laurie Hill" and CBS's intriguing "Picket Fences." Yet even these shows are a bit weird.

The title character of "Laurie Hill," airing Wednesdays as of Sept. 30, is a mother and a doctor, selfless and tireless in both roles. What her husband does for a living is not made clear in the pilot episode (network publicity says he's a freelance writer); he just seems to hang around the house a lot wearing sweaters.

It's "Ozzie and Harriet," only Harriet has a job.

Even in this seemingly wholesome setting, however, there's a good deal of racy dialogue. "I was thinking about throwing you down on the breadboard and grabbing your buttocks," hubby tells wifey early in the opening show.

Later, he complains about their lack of sexual intimacy.

He: "Thanks for last night."

She: "What are you talking about?"

He: "Oh, right -- that was just me."

"Picket Fences," airing Friday nights as of Sept. 18, is a family show, but maybe the Addams Family. The premiere suggests the producers don't know quite what kind of series they're doing: It's a cop show! And a medical show! And a domestic sitcom! With a touch of "Twin Peaks" thrown in!

Dad is the sheriff, mom a psychiatrist in the small town of Rome, Wis. They have two cute little boys and a pretty teenage daughter. So far so good. But in addition to introducing these characters, the premiere includes such events as the arrival in town of a female singing group that is really a pack o' prostitutes, an old geezer found in the sack with two of them at once, a nude woman discovered dead in a dishwasher, and a 16-year-old girl having an affair with a married local businessman.

Now keep in mind that "Laurie Hill" and "Picket Fences" may be the two wholesomest series among the new fall crop. That shows you where we are.

Another new show that might fit the category is the CBS sitcom "Frannie's Turn," premiering tonight at 8 on Channel 9 and later moving to Saturdays. This family consists of a hefty housewife about to become a liberated woman, her sexist Cuban husband, a teenage son and a nearly married daughter. The problem is that, despite a valiant attempt to keep things aloft by versatile star Miriam Margolyes, the comedy is weak and the family members incompatible.

"Frannie's Turn" is a turnoff and likely to be the first network show of the new season to be canceled.

Of all the networks, Fox is probably the most anti-family in its programming. That's somewhat ironic because the Reagan-Bush FCC has given Fox numerous regulatory breaks that have enabled it to stay in business and to prosper mightily. Former FCC chairman Dennis Patrick once pointed with pride to Fox as an example of the blessings of deregulation. Yes, seriously.

Almost all Fox shows are aimed at and about young people. It is a network in permanent puberty. The new series "Flying Blind" is about a sex-seeking young man who is two months out of college, "Class of '96" is about a group of sex-seeking freshmen who've just arrived there, and "Great Scott" is about a teenager looking to score. David Beaird, executive producer of Fox's "Key West," told Entertainment Weekly magazine, "We really want Dan Quayle to hate us. I can't stress that enough."

Do you get the feeling there's just the teeny-tiniest bit of hysterical overreacting going on?

The sleaziest of the new fall shows may be NBC's "The Round Table," from the prince of pander, Aaron Spelling, whose return to television has been a lamentable development. "Round Table" is all about randy young professionals in Washington who meet at a Georgetown bar to thrash out such problems as who gave crab lice to whom.

Some new series have trickled onto the air already. More will arrive this week, the first "official" week of the new season. What follows is a selection of bests and worsts, with both terms being relative.

Promising Starts

"Hearts Afire" is the house afire among new sitcoms. Created by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason of "Designing Women" and "Evening Shade," the show costars sitcom vets John Ritter and Markie Post as assistants to a conservative and slightly dotty Southern U.S. senator.

In the too-long one-hour premiere, airing tomorrow night at 8 on Channel 9, Ritter as the legislative assistant hires Post to be press secretary, even though she has no real experience and a personality only slightly less irritating than Gadhafi's.

But there's something about her. And about them. And about George Gaynes, the pixilated commandant of all those "Police Academy" movies, as the senator. Together, and with colloquial newcomer Billy Bob Thornton as, appropriately, Billy Bob Davis, "Hearts Afire" is show agood.

All the advance hoopla for "Love and War" turns out to have been the buildup to a letdown, though not an awful one. More ambitious in concept than "Hearts Afire," it's also much less successful in execution.

Probably the most eagerly awaited new series (it's from Diane English and Joel Shukovsky, creators of "Murphy Brown"), "Love and War" labors under a burdensome gimmick: Its stars, beautiful Susan Dey and dreary Jay Thomas, repeatedly turn to the camera and address the audience. They play a couple who meet and fall in love when she buys the Manhattan bar that has become his hangout.

We get to hear them speak their innermost thoughts directly to us. Better to deduce them indirectly from what they say and do. Despite the drawback, the writing of the series is above average, and English has indicated that the talking to the camera will be phased down, though not out, as the weeks go by.

"Bob," on CBS Friday nights, brings back Bob Newhart, king of the low-key cutups, in a lovably crafted new vehicle. He's Bob McKay, a cartoonist reduced to drawing greeting cards until a wacky publisher decides to revive the "Mad Dog" character he created years earlier. As with his past shows, Newhart is the artful calm at storm's center, a sane man surrounded by the lumpen loonoisie.

The series premieres Friday at 8 p.m.

On ABC ABC's comedy-drama "Laurie Hill" has more than warmth to recommend it, although these days, that's enough. A viewer can believe that DeLane Matthews, in the title role, could balance a medical career and a family and not go insane. Not right away anyway. The show, created by producers Neal Marlens and Carol Black -- whose "Wonder Years" ran out of wonder years ago -- premieres Wednesday, Sept. 30.

"Hangin' With Mr. Cooper," also new on ABC, is a black "Three's Company," pure and simple. Actually, much simpler than pure. But there's the possibility it can be kept afloat by Mark Curry, the very tall comedian cast as the sole male roommate of two bodacious babes. It premieres Tuesday, Sept. 22.


NBC has the weakest lineup of the three big networks -- maybe the weakest of all four. "Here and Now," starring "Cosby Show" alumnus Malcolm-Jamal Warner, at least has a bracing positivism about it, and Warner shows smooth aplomb as a young graduate student doing volunteer work at an urban youth center. It premieres Saturday at 8 p.m.

Many of the critics will be mad about NBC's "Mad About You," the new Wednesday night sitcom that David Letterman has mischievously dubbed "Mad At You." But the series, starring the boring Paul Reiser and the saucy Helen Hunt, seems all too clearly designed for compatibility with its lead-in, NBC's increasingly self-conscious "Seinfeld."

Although Reiser doesn't play a stand-up comic in the series, he is one, and all his lines and reactions seem timed and predigested. Hunt is far more watchable in this saga of newlyweds (of five months) and their problems of adjustment, but "Mad" isn't quite mad enough. It premieres Wednesday, Sept. 23.

On Fox

The Fox network, meanwhile, has managed a cosmic stretch and actually scheduled a couple of shows with a palpable intelligence, or at least fresh energy, about them. "Flying Blind" is yet another series about a young man on the make, but it's got a crisp wit reminiscent of the old "Dobie Gillis" scripts, plus versatile Corey Parker in the lead role of a young man who is just out of college and hungry for life experiences.

It's "The Graduate" without Mrs. Robinson, at least so far, and while the show has little if any depth, its surface shines. Unfortunately, that awful Channel 5 delays the series premiere until 11 o'clock tonight.

"The Edge" aims to be even more audacious a collection of sketches than Fox's "In Living Color." It also aims for that show's gross tastelessness. But the premiere episode, airing Saturday at 9:30 p.m., includes some gleefully vicious routines, and the cast is headed by hilarious Julie Brown, formerly of, and always too good for, MTV.

Worth One Glance

CBS's quirky drama series "Picket Fences" (on Friday nights) and its gourmet cop show "The Hat Squad" (Wednesdays) also merit at least one tune-in. NBC's "Out All Night" (Saturdays) is pretty darn dumb, even for a sitcom, but the milk-and-honey cast includes Patti LaBelle and Morris Chestnut (of "Boyz N the Hood").

So much for the better, or less lackluster, of the new fall shows. Among the accidents waiting to happen: NBC's "Rhythm & Blues," a one-joke bomb about a black-owned radio station that accidentally hires -- har har -- a white deejay; ABC's "Delta," a who-cares bust in which Delta Burke runs off to Nashville to become a fat country singer; ABC's "Camp Wilder," a k a "Too Full a House," featuring a sitcom brood that lives without parents; and the worst new show of the year, CBS's hatefully abrasive "Angel Street," about two female cops (Robin Givens and Pamela Gidley) who detest each other, and you won't wonder why.

On Public Television

Public television, having survived a massive assault from right-wing kooks and senatorial crackpots, has big plans for the year, including:

"The Kennedys," the four-hour fifth-season opener for the "American Experience" documentary series, focusing obviously on the most fabled and fascinating of American political dynasties. It airs Sunday and Monday, Sept. 20 and 21.

Children's Television Workshop, which gave the world "Sesame Street," has produced a new series designed to excite children about reading and writing (even if it takes a TV show to do it): "Ghostwriter," premiering Sunday, Oct. 4.

"Great Performances" celebrates its 20th season with a two-hour anniversary gala that will feature Mikhail Baryshnikov, Blythe Danner and Bernadette Peters (in Terrence McNally's "The Last Mile") on Friday, Oct. 9. Other highlights of the "GP" season ahead include "Jelly Roll Morton: The Man Who Invented Jazz?," with Gregory Hines, on Nov. 2.

"Frontline" returns on Tuesday, Oct. 13, with "Public Hearing/Private Pain," a recap of the showdown between Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. The 22nd season of "Masterpiece Theatre" will include "A Question of Attribution" with James Fox on Sunday, Oct. 4, and "The Best of Friends," with John Gielgud and Wendy Hiller, Oct. 18 through Nov. 12.

"American Playhouse" brings "Tru," Robert Morse's one-man show on the life and writings of Truman Capote, to television on Nov. 23.

On Cable

The new season on cable already began in spectacularly funny fashion with HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show," the Saturday-night series (with repeats on Tuesdays) in which Garry Shandling gets an amazing amount of fun turning the TV talk show inside out and back again. It's the best new sitcom of the season so far.

HBO has a potential blockbuster slated for Saturday, Oct. 10: "Michael Jackson in Concert in Bucharest: The 'Dangerous' Tour," featuring the shy wisp of a pop star in a tape-delayed performance. The "Dangerous" tour will not play domestic dates this year, and the miracle is, considering the unquenchable greed within the cable industry, that this ended up on HBO and not as an overpriced pay-per-view special.

The Disney Channel will open a six-week Beatles festival with the U.S. premiere of "The Making of Sgt. Pepper" on Sunday, Sept. 27, at 9 p.m. Other rare Beatlemabilia will be featured in succeeding weeks.

Nickelodeon's playful Nick at Nite continues its merry deja viewing, adding a true TV classic, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (1970-77), to its prime-time schedule. The return of Mary & Ted & Murray & Sue Ann and, oh yes, Mister Grant is being celebrated with an exhaustive "Mary-Thon" that began last night and continues through Friday, a different season of the show spotlighted all night each night, starting at 8 p.m.

"Chuckles Bites the Dust," the Emmy-winning masterpiece about a clown's demise, will be seen Thursday at 8 p.m.

Regular episodes begin Monday, Sept. 21, at 9. And no, nothing about "MTM" has aged except the clothes and the hairstyles. It's pure gold. Name one new show from this season that is likely to look as good or be as funny 20 years from now. Go ahead. Try. We're waiting. Hello?

Oh forget it.

A Review from the Baltimore Sun

Laurie Hill' is a bit too selfless to be believable
September 30, 1992|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Television Critic

Meet Laurie Hill, doctor and saint.

I suppose after decades of men as doctors and saints on TV, there's nothing awful about a woman with a medical degree who's just perfect in every way. But, boy, does it make for boring TV.

ABC calls "Laurie Hill" an "adult comedy," but the laughs and smiles are pretty far apart. Instead there's whining, tear-jerking and lots of the sentimentality that makes for bad melodrama in the series, which premieres at 9:30 tonight on WJZ (Channel 13).

Dr. Hill (DeLane Matthews) is a pediatrician in her mid-30s with a husband and a 5-year-old son. As the ABC ads say: "She loves being a doctor. She loves being a mom. But what she'd really love is a little sleep."

That is Dr. Hill's only flaw: She occasionally gets tired and can't give of herself the way she would like to give 24 hours a day to her husband, child, patients, humanity, the world, the galaxy, and places beyond where only the Starship Enterprise has visited.

And if the prospect of watching a heroine-too-selfless-to-be-true isn't deadening enough, there's the rest of the Hill household.

Her husband (Robert Clohessy) is a free-lance writer who works at home and is constantly acting hurt and whining because his wife's beeper is going off and it's not always sounding for him. The kid (Eric Lloyd) is one of those ever-so-cute-and-wise TV creations who talks and acts more like an adult than any kid you ever knew. The kid acts hurt a lot, too, because Mom is always running off to the hospital to try to save the life of another child just as the pizza arrives.

In tonight's episode, one of Dr. Hill's child-patients turns out to be HIV positive. The possibility was there for genuine drama. But the treatment given this child-dying-young is sentimental and exploitative. It's used as an easy device to show how deep and vast Dr. Hill's storehouse of compassion is without any real sense of what it must feel like to be the child or a member of his family.

If I sound as if I'm being a little rough on this show, it's because I expected more from the producers, Neal Marlens and Carol Black, based on their fabulous work on "The Wonder Years."

In fact, I'm such a fan of their work that I convinced myself the first time I saw the pilot that something wise and knowing, funny and sad was being said about the human condition. But, on second and third viewings, I came to realize it was just the soundtrack, the acoustic guitar work of W. G. Snuffy Walden, that made me feel that way. I think I was flashing on the emotions I had previously felt watching "The Wonder Years," "thirtysomething" and other shows that featured Walden's music. It was a Pavlovian -- or Waldenian -- response. The soundtrack deserves a better show.

None of which is to say "Laurie Hill" is automatically D.O.A. It has a great lead-in from "Home Improvement," which should make it look like an early ratings winner. But I think viewers are going tire pretty fast of the sainted Dr. Hill, supersupermom and healer of healers.


When: Tonight at 9:30.

Where: WJZ (Channel 13).

An Article From The New York Times

'LAURIE HILL'; Quality Bites The Dust

Published: January 31, 1993
To the Editor:

So that's what happened to "Laurie Hill" [ "The Short Life and Unhappy Death of 'Laurie Hill,' " Jan. 10 ] . Thank you for solving the mysteries behind the disappearance of such a high-quality series. My wife and I had been avid fans of the show, whose warm-toned sets, theatrical feel and honest portrayal of real human relationships gave us a glimpse into the meaning of our own terribly frantic and confused lives.

It is sobering (but not too surprising) that the networks continue to rely on numbers and political games to dictate programming, and not what truly matters to the public they supposedly serve. We are hereby casting our vote for fresh, entertaining programs with characters who are actually enjoyable to meet. It seems a simple task, yet the networks cancel quality series one after the other.

O.K., guys, we get the message: you don't want anybody with a heart and thinking brain to stay tuned. RALPH CARMOSINO Astoria, N. Y.

To read an article about Laurie Hill go to

To learn about the awful shows of the 1990's go to

To watch a promo of Laurie Hill go to

To watch the opening credits of Laurie Hill go to
Date: Wed May 1, 2013 � Filesize: 54.2kb, 96.8kbDimensions: 762 x 1000 �
Keywords: Robert Clohessy, DeLane Matthews & Eric Lloyd (Links Updated 7/30/18)


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