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That's Life aired from March until April 1998 on ABC.
It shoulda have been one of the best days in his life. Big, blustery, blue collar Mike ( Gerry Red Wilson) had just been promoted to "head of the meat department" at the Queens, New York, grocery store where he worked, and now he and his wife Patty ( Kellie Overbey) wouldn't have to rent out the third floor of their row house. Instead he could turn it into "Guy Town," where he could hang out with his buddies, swill bear, fart, tell gross jokes, and grunt "How bout dem Jets?" Into this Elysian dream came Catharine ( Nadia Dajani), Patty's rich, snobbish sister from Manhattan, who had just broken up with her husband and needed a place to stay. In tow was her creepy son Kieran ( Michael Charles Roman), who loked like a Stepford Child and didn't speak. Guy Town was put on hold.
Mike and Catharine spat at each other constantly while long-suffering Patty interjected a zinger of her own once in a while. Lisa ( Paula Perrette) was Patty's 21-year-old sister, and Mitch ( Ron Livingston) was Mike's equally loutish friend. Nice folks. Gimme a beer.
On a sad note, while filming a guest spot for ABC's "Fantasy Island" revival, stand-
up comic and former school teacher Gerry Red Wilson died of
undiagnosed meningitis on November 21, 1998. He was 37 years old.
A Review from The New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEW; Erin Go Brawl: Feuds And Fussing in Queens
By RICK LYMAN
Published: March 10, 1998
Queens, at least as seen through the eyes of the creators of ''That's Life,'' an affable car wreck of a sitcom that has its premiere tonight at 9:30 on ABC, turns out to be a fairly bloodless and generic Everytown, where they have to wear Jets T-shirts to remind us what city we're in and put ''Erin Go Bragh'' pillows on the sofa to help us understand that the family is Irish-American.
Archie Bunker wouldn't know the place.
In the pilot, Mike, as played by the comedian Gerry Red Wilson, has just been promoted to head of the meat department at a local supermarket (''I am not a butcher,'' he says. ''The meat comes already butched.''). He is from the Overgrown Adolescent school of sitcom husbands, a guy who dreams of creating a beer-and-television Guy Town in an upstairs room and uses ''Bullwinkle'' cartoons for foreplay with his adoring but exasperated wife, Patty (Kellie Overbey).
The premise for the series is that Mike's sister-in-law, Catherine, a snotty Manhattanite played by Nadia Dajani (imagine Disney's animated Pocahontas come to life and wearing a Brooks Brothers power suit) is forced to move with her son into Guy Town when her husband loses their fortune and vamooses.
Mike and Catherine hate each other, of course. They trade barbs while Patty referees. ''I always liked that shirt, since the first day I met you,'' Catherine says to him.
''If I knew you were coming, I'd have put on a different shirt,'' he retorts, pausing for comic effect. ''And slipped out the back door!''
When Catherine's pre-teen-age son, Kieran (Michael Charles Roman), is invited up to Guy Town before he lives there to learn how real men act -- he was reared in Manhattan, you see -- Catherine can't help getting in a little dig. ''It'll be like observing the natives in New Guinea,'' she says. Mike is offended. ''Wait,'' he says. ''I'm not Italian.''
Yes, it's one-liner land, and the jokes are as generic as the setting.
They seem to be going for a mix of ''Home Improvement'' and ''The Honeymooners,'' but Mr. Wilson, who looks like a cross between David Caruso and Mel Torme, lacks Tim Allen's effortless audience rapport, and the less said about Jackie Gleason in connection with this show the better for everyone involved.
Ms. Overbey, easily the most winning member of the cast, is unfortunately given little to do but act exasperated and try to make peace between the big babies in her life. Such is the fate, of course, of sitcom housewives since time immemorial. At least she carries the burden well. She even makes you believe that the ''Bullwinkle'' cartoons work for her, too.
ABC, tonight at 9:30
(Channel 7 in New York)
Eric Gilliland, series executive producer; premiere story by Brian Burns and Mr. Gilliland; premiere teleplay by Mr. Gilliland; directed by Michael Lembeck; Lisa Albert and Coral Hawthorne, producers; Sid Youngers, co-executive producer; Norma Safford Vela, consulting producer. Produced by Eric Gilliland Productions in association with 20th Century Television.
WITH: Gerry Red Wilson (Mike), Kellie Overbey (Patty), Nadia Dajani (Catherine), Ron Livingston (Mitch), Pauley Perrette (Lisa) and Michael Charles Roman (Kieran).
A Review from The Seattle Pilot
ABC'S VIEWERS DID NOT NEED ANOTHER BOORISH SITCOM, BUT `THAT'S LIFE'
BY JOHN LEVESQUE P-I TELEVISION CRITIC
Tuesday, March 10, 1998
As an homage to ``All in the Family," ABC's new comedy ``That's Life" is faithful. The setting is Queens, the main character, Mike, is a sexist lout, and he's just been promoted to ``head of meat" at the grocery store.
Get it? Head of meat. Meathead. Heh-heh. No doubt they're rolling in the aisles at the Safeway.
With a big raise in pay, Mike is in his USDA prime. He doesn't need rental income from the upstairs apartment anymore. So, after the tenants move out, he plans to realize his dream: Guy Town, a four-couch shrine to all the manly pursuits that don't require use of the human brain.
Mike's wife, Patty, is OK with this because, well, it's better than having guys scratching and belching in the living room.
But wait. Patty's snooty sister, Catherine, drops in with her 10-year-old son, Kieran. Catherine's husband has abandoned them and left them penniless and homeless. As much as she hates Mike, Catherine is willing to crash in the vacated apartment until she can get back on her feet.
Bye-bye, Guy Town. Hello, Dullsville.
``That's Life" is billed as a ``reality-based" comedy in the gritty style of ``Roseanne." This low-concept approach has worked for ABC with ``The Drew Carey Show" and ``Grace Under Fire" - when it's in production - so why not take another crack at it?
Well, here's one reason. In the same manner that many comedies with predominantly black casts make their characters ridiculous buffoons, so do a lot of working-class comedies with predominantly white casts make their characters ridiculous boors.
Thus, Mike makes fun of Kieran's non-macho tendencies and warns that he'll grow up to be a figure skater, he balks at an afternoon tryst on the sofa with his wife because ``we sometimes eat on that couch," and when Patty (Kellie Overbey) tells him Catherine (Nadia Dajani) is downstairs, he offers this unfortunate quip: ``Didn't we put blood on our door so she'd skip our house?"
At least Archie Bunker knew something was amiss, even if he didn't realize that he was the problem. In ``That's Life," Mike (Gerry Red Wilson) has no clue that there's anything wrong, so he exists mainly to taunt his sister-in-law and take advantage of his way-too-patient wife.
Wilson, a comedian by trade, plays Mike in full ``Life of Riley" bluster, borrowing liberally from both men who interpreted the role: Jackie Gleason and William Bendix.
Not all of Wilson's lines are tasteless. Some are even funny. But where ``All in the Family" and ``Roseanne" presented believable, if slightly goofy, American families, ``That's Life" gives us a large ensemble getting off goofy one-liners that are hardly believable.
ABC apparently thinks it has another ``All in the Family" with ``That's Life." The show's working title for a while was ``These Are the Days," eerily similar to ``Those Were the Days," the theme song of ``All in the Family" and its original title when ABC passed up a chance to put it on the air nearly 30 years ago.
ABC should have passed on this one, too. But that's life.
For more on That's Life go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/That%27s_Life_(1998_TV_series)
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