Poster: Mr. Television
(see this users gallery)
Almost Perfect was a half-hour sitcom that aired from September 1995 until October 1996 on CBS.
The travails of 2 young ambitious professionals in Los Angeles trying to develop a relationship while coping with the demands of their jobs was the focus of this romantic comedy. Kim ( Nancy Travis), the only woman on the writing staff of the hit tv cop series Blue Justice, had just been promoted to Executive Producer when she met " Mr. Right" handsome district attorney Mike Ryan ( Kevin Kilner). The chemistry between them was strong, and romance blossomed-but they had their problems. Hers were the nutty writers on Blue Justice, as well as the insecure and/or overbearing actors on the show. The writers were Neal( David Clennon), a burned-out hack with a penchant for one-liners; Rob ( Matthew Letscher), the young innocent from the midwest who desperately wanted to become a "cool" Angelino; and Gary ( Chip Zien), a world class neurotic who wanted her job. Gary's personal problems included his obnoxious wife Patty ( Lisa Edelstein), from whom he seperated in November. Mike's schedule with the D.A.'s kept him busy and his friendship with the writers working for Kim tended to get in the way of the relationship. Both were very competitive, and each of them needed to be in control of their relationship, but their love seemed to be strong enough to overcome the difficulties; by the end of the season they were living together.
When Almost Perfect returned in the fall of 1996, Kim and Mike were breaking up and she was adjusting to life without a serious romantic relationship. The change in the series focus didn't have much time to evolve, it was canceled after the 4th episode of the 1996-1997 season.
A Review from The LA Times
Preview '95 : Nancy Travis Is 'Almost Perfect'--What's Missing?
September 10, 1995|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER
Nancy Travis flashes her killer smile.
And just as quickly the star of CBS' new screwball comedy "Almost Perfect" furrows her brow slightly, opens her eyes wide and asks a bit self-mockingly, "Where are you going?"
"I've probably said that in every feature I've been in," she recalls with a shrug. "I've been repeatedly defined as the girlfriend or wife." Make that the supportive girlfriend or wife ("Greedy," "Three Men and a Baby," "Married to the Mob").
This time around, her character calls the shots.
As "Almost Perfect's" Kim Cooper, Travis plays a manic TV cop-show executive producer trying to balance her rising career with her personal life. When Kim hooks up with Mike Ryan (Kevin Kilner), a young district attorney also on the rise, the two begin their own balancing act.
"The comedy really comes out of reality," says Travis. "Kim's a real throwback to Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck and Rosalind Russell, whom I've admired." And Travis, as it turns out, is someone that "Almost Perfect" creators and executive producers Robin Schiff, Ken Levine and David Isaacs also admired. When told that she was their only choice for Kim, Travis flashes that smile again.
"Oh!" she says with a chuckle, curling her legs under her in her dressing-room armchair, "they like to say that now ! We'll see what they say midseason!"
"Nancy was the first and only person we met with and we were so lucky to get her," Schiff recounts in a separate interview. When Paramount executive Dan Fauci, a former acting teacher of Travis' read it, he knew she was right for Kim. "Dan slipped her the script, she came in, read and, I swear, I got goose bumps," Schiff says. "Nancy was perfect for the part."
It's no coincidence that Kim is a TV producer, Schiff says, acknowledging that the part is based on her own life (Schiff's worked as a producer and writer on "Working Girl," "Princesses," "Delta"). Tired of watching women relegated to TV roles where they play either strong women without a social life or family women without a career, Schiff was determined to create a funny show about the melding of the two.
" 'I want to do a show about a woman who's juggling a career with a relationship,' " she told Levine and Isaacs. "How can you do both without feeling guilty about the other? It's a situation ripe with humor."
Levine and Isaacs, who had worked on "Cheers," "MASH" and "Frasier" together, agreed. Travis, Schiff adds, "fits the character like a glove. She's so bright, has such a sense of fun." The quartet made a deal at their first meeting. "And this was before the show was picked up."
The actress, fresh from yet two more secondary roles--this summer's HBO movie "Body Language" and the feature film "Fluke"--recalls why she embraced the show immediately.
"It was the writing that did it," says Travis, who'd been looking for a TV series for two years but didn't find anything she liked. "Almost Perfect" was "really smart," she says.
Television is "quite a change of pace for me," acknowledges the actress, who has some 15 features to her credit and voices Bernice on USA's "Duckman." "I thought it was going to be an ideal schedule, like a 9-to-5 kind of job. But the time's compressed and so you work a lot harder and a lot faster."
Born in New York and raised in Baltimore, Travis was "brought up to have it all. My mother often told me the world was my oyster. My grandparents were immigrants. And our generation is a whole generation of women with great educations who are trying to have it all and no one's told us how to do it."
"Almost Perfect," she says, "taps into that kind of predicament. We're all trying to figure out, 'How do I work in a man's world and still remain a woman and not lose my sense of self? How do I find a man who can deal with the fact I've got all this stuff on my plate?' "
Travis wrings her hands. "There's a whole generation of people out there dealing with that. That's where the humor is too. They'll think, 'Oh my God! I've been in that position!' "
Married to Savoy Pictures President Rob Fried, Travis notes that the couple deal with the same issues "Almost Perfect" tackles. "We're always trying to figure out how we can balance our time together so we both get what we want from each other and our chosen careers--those compromises you've got to make and who's going to make those."
Travis smiles and affects a Bostonian accent (she readily hops in and out of accents). "It's the source of our joy and our pain."
Although Travis, 33, hopes to "flip-flop" between "Almost Perfect" and films--she appears in the upcoming feature "Bogus" opposite Whoopi Goldberg--she's reluctant to pin herself down. She might not look for a movie that fits in during the show's spring hiatus, she intimates. "I might want to have a baby! Who knows?"
And then there's another flash of that smile.
"Almost Perfect" premieres Sept. 17 and airs Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.
A Review From Variety
((CBS, Sun. Sept. 17, 8:30 p.m.))
By CAROLE HORST
Filmed in Los Angeles by Levine & Isaacs Prods. in association with Paramount Network Television. Executive producers, Ken Levine, David Isaacs, Robin Schiff. Co-executive producer, Victor Fresco; producers, Robin Chamberlin, Larina Adamson; co-producers, Mike and Linda Teverbaugh; associate producer, Lori Moneymaker; creators-writers, Schiff, Levine, Isaacs; story, Schiff; director, Andy Ackerman.
Cast: Nancy Travis, Kevin Kilner, David Clennon, Matthew Letscher, Chip Zien, Mark Harelik, Mary Gordon Murray, Eileen Seeley, Roxanne Beckford, Dendrie Taylor, Cliff Levine, Cameron Watson.
As a romantic half-hour comedy, "Almost Perfect" works almost perfectly when the two principals, Nancy Travis and the wry Kevin Kilner, spar with one another in a Tracy & Hepburn way. But rest of cast, including the wonderful David Clennon, is left to wrestle with two dimensional characters. Overall, it's hard to tell where this series is headed -- both in plot and success -- after the pilot episode. Destined for a newly competitive Sunday night -- since the removal of ratings juggernaut "Murder, She Wrote" -- "Perfect" should keep some of its "Cybill" lead-in, but not for long.
Kim Cooper (Travis), the only female writer on TV show "Blue Justice," is suddenly thrust into the exec producer slot on the show. Pilot sets the tone: She's a hyper-busy career woman with a string of bad relationships behind her and a gagle of married-with-children friends.
"Perfect" opens weakly with Kim meeting a blind date at a restaurant -- only she sits down with the wrong man (Kevin Kilner), and they click. He turns out to be handsome D.A. Mike Ryan.
Series' main weakness is Kim's "Blue Justice" co-workers, who skim stereotypes: the Iowa farm boy (a blond, natch), the nebbish and the bizarre gonzo burnout (the almost unrecognizable Clennon). Kim's and Mike's worlds don't intersect, and the show sags when they're not onscreen together.
Travis' chemistry with Kilner is right on, but she strives to be a tough, independent woman in a man's world, and she comes off brassy and loud, Kilner is dry and witty; he slides into his character with ease.
Tech credits are top-notch.
A Review From Entertainment Weekly
NANCY TRAVIS AND ELIZABETH MCGOVERN FIND TV LOVE
-- By Ken Tucker
It would be unfortunate if the current glut of sophisticated and would-be-sophisticated sitcoms ended up causing two smart new romantic comedies, ALMOST PERFECT (CBS, Sundays, 8:30-9 p.m.) and IF NOT FOR YOU (CBS, Mondays, 9:30-10 p.m.), to get lost in the prime-time shuffle. In Almost Perfect, the producer of a TV cop show (Nancy Travis) and a DA (Kevin Kilner) meet cute in a restaurant and commence a fling. In If Not for You, an audio-book producer (Elizabeth McGovern) and a record producer (Hank Azaria) meet cute in a res taurant and would like to commence a fling, but each is engaged to another.
If If's premise is slightly more original than Perfect's, Perfect has the better subplot: The show that Travis' character works on is called Blue Justice, a barely disguised version of NYPD Blue and a springboard for amusing TV in-jokes as well as a funny staff, which includes thirtysomething's David Clennon as a zonked, black-humored writer more interested in researching autopsy photos than in devising plot twists.
Both of these shows star actresses who've made their reputations in feature films, yet who prove to be dexterous sitcom leads. Travis has a ball as a brassy, frazzled career woman. She's well paired with Kilner, with his calm demeanor (he seems like Scott Bakula with a better sense of irony). You have no trouble imagining these two hitting it off.
Although there's chemistry aplenty between McGovern (she looks soft, speaks firmly) and Azaria (he looks haggard, speaks energetically), the show's first problem is that it's all too obvious that their betrotheds were never the right mates for either of them. There's just no way, for example, that McGovern's smart, wry character would go for a guy (Peter Krause) who stares at her blankly and says, ''I can never tell when you're joking.'' The show's second problem is, What is this series going to do once McGovern and Azaria dump their intendeds, other than turn into a well-written Mad About You rip?
Anyway, so far, Perfect's stars have displayed a flair for physical comedy (I really laughed when Kilner dried his hands on a cat), and If, a penchant for high-toned low jokes (the pilot has a punchline quote from Pascal). May CBS attract the younger demographics it seeks with these shows, and may both of them survive and deepen their respective love affairs. Almost Perfect: B If Not for You: B
Posted Sep 22, 1995
An Article from The Desert News
ALMOST PERFECT' KEEPS UP THE STRUGGLE FOR PERFECTION WITH A CASTING CHANGE
By Scott D. Pierce, Television Editor
Published: July 29, 1996 12:00 am
Life is still "Almost Perfect" for Nancy Travis, but it's not quite so perfect for Kevin Kilner anymore.
She remains the star of the CBS sitcom as it heads into its second season. He's been dropped from the cast.Which means some changes are in store for the relatively low-rated series, which spent its first season showing how Kim (Travis) balanced her career as a successful television producer with her relationship with boyfriend Mike (Kil-ner).
"I think we felt that the relationship - although it was a really good, strong part of the show - was basically limiting us," said executive producer Ken Levine. "It was very tough to come up with stories, quite frankly. Because it seemed that she had a great job, she had a great boyfriend. The only real problem, other than neurotic problems, was - how do you juggle the two?"
Making Kim a single woman trying to work and find a relationship "will liberate us a bit, and open the door to more stories and some more fun," Levine said.
Of course, it wasn't like Levine and executive producer Robin Schiff and David Isaacs were just sitting around one day when they decided to dump the character of Mike. Confirming widespread reports, Schiff admitted the idea "did initially come from the network."
But they refuted reports that CBS made dropping the character a requirement for "Almost Perfect" to get a second season on the network.
"It was never put that way," Levine said.
"It was a suggestion," Schiff insisted.
And, according to the executive producers, it was a suggestion that came at a time when they were struggling with where to take the show in a second season. They knew they wanted to keep the work element of the show - Kim and her three male co-writers on the fictional TV police drama "Blue Justice" - but they weren't sure how to keep the stories going.
"We had all started thinking, gee, we're gong to have to do something next year that's different from what we were doing this year," Schiff said. "And we didn't want to get them married right away. So we knew, the three of us as a unit, we were going to have to try to find some new way to tell stories to free us up a bit.
"At the same time CBS felt that the most successful part of the show was primarily Nancy Travis. And Nancy Travis with the three guys, who we felt - as did the network - got strong and better over time."
And keeping all those elements together was proving difficult.
"When we did do shows centered in the writers' room, how do you get Mike into those stories?" Levine said. "And like I said, we just felt in some cases a little handcuffed."
"Now we'll be dealing with a show still about a high-powered professional woman who wants a relationship, who wants love in her life and just spent a year in the wrong relationship," Schiff said. "A woman in her early 30s without a lot of time, and why wasn't this the right guy?"
Schiff, Levine and Isaacs are looking for ways to integrate the three fictional writers into the stories more but not spend all their time in the writers' room. They want to get them to interact more with the cast and the crew of the fictional TV series.
They're also looking at creating a new character - a female friend for Kim who might end up being the bartender at the restaurant where Kim frequently hangs out.
As the sole centerpiece of the series now, Travis said she doesn't really see it as a huge shift in the show's focus.
"I don't feel like the premise of the show has really changed that much," Travis said. "I think it's still about a woman trying to balance work and a relationship, and whether she's in a relationship or seeking a relationship, it's pretty much the same idea to me."
YOU'RE FIRED: So, how exactly do you fire someone from a television series? Not by mail - by phone.
"We told him," Isaacs said. "And we were in different cities at the time, which in a way made it easier.
"We were originally in the same city, but we left," Isaacs joked.
"We called him and said point blank that we felt we needed to change, and he was fantastic," Isaacs said. "Kevin is just a class guy. The first thing he said to us was, `How can I help out?' "
(Kilner will return for the season premiere of "Almost Perfect" to wrap up his character's storyline.)
WHAT A WAY TO GO: So, how will Kilner's character be written out?
"A gruesome murder," Travis quipped.
"Gruesome but funny," Levine added.
Actually, Kilner is going to return for an episode that has Gary (Chip Zien) preparing to remarry his ex-wife.
"And Gary is very excited about it, except that he has a theory that all couples are only five sentences from a break-up at any time - given the right five sentences," Isaacs said. "And so, through the course of that episode (Kim and Mike) will break up, Gary will break up and Rob will break up with his girlfriend."
"So by the end of the wedding everybody is going to be single again," Schiff added.
It may sound a bit outlandish, but the story was inspired by a real-life conversation Schiff had with someone she knows.
"The five-sentences thing, quite honestly, came from a friend of mine," Schiff said. "I was talking to him to him and I said, `And how are you and your wife getting along?' And he said, `Well, much better now that we don't really talk about anything openly.'
"And then he said, `But I pretty much believe all couples are five sentences away from breaking up at any time.' "
At the time, Schiff, Levine and Isaacs were talking about how to handle the breakup episode of "Almost Perfect."
"I came into the office and said, `I think we've got a hook!' " Schiff said.
ART IMITATES LIFE: In real life, "Almost Perfect" has always struggled in the ratings. This fall, it's going to move to Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS, where it will go up against ABC's "Grace Under Fire" and NBC's "NewsRadio."
As for the fictional show-within-a-show on "Almost Perfect," there are also going to be some scheduling problems for "Blue Justice."
"They're really on the ropes because they're opposite `ER.' And even though the network expected them to get killed, they're getting killed even worse than was expected," Schiff said. "And if they don't bring the show up at least a point somehow, they're going to get canceled.
"Nothing we can really relate to at all."
At the same time, Kim gets fixed up on a blind date with "a drip" - a guy she's not attracted to at all.
"But she finds out he has a Nielsen (ratings) box. And he used to watch `Blue Justice,' but now that it's opposite `ER' he watches `ER.' " Schiff said. "So she starts going over every Thursday at o'clock to get him to watch it. And of course, it goes up a point."
Stay tuned . . .
Another Article from Entertainment Weekly
Rebound for Glory?
Sitcom tries to spice things up to boost its ratings
By Jessica Shaw
As anyone who's been in a relationship knows, a lot can happen between May and October. And this summer has been particularly hard on TV couples. Take Almost Perfect's Kim (Nancy Travis) and Mike (Kevin Kilner). When last we saw them, pre-hiatus, they'd worked out their problems and were walking off into the CBS sunset. If you like Mike, you'll be happy to see him in the series' season opener. But don't get used to it. ''The network found out everyone loved Nancy Travis but didn't buy the relationship,'' says executive producer and creator Robin Schiff. ''A lot of people felt the guy wasn't as dynamic as she was.'' Faster than you can say ''retool that series,'' Mike was deep-sixed by the network.
At least he's not swimming alone in the sitcom-relationship reject pool: Caroline in the City's Del (Eric Lutes) is now just a friend, while Friends' Richard (Tom Selleck) will be smoking his stogies elsewhere. And with the exit of Charlie (Jensen Daggett), The Single Guy's Jonathan Silverman is now living up to his series' title. ''It's important to a show to shake things up sometimes,'' Schiff reasons.
Whatever the excuse, Almost Perfect the only new CBS sitcom of last fall to survive the season is hoping Kim's newfound solo status will be the right marriage with the Wednesday-night audience. ''When the show started, Kim was single and a [TV]writer, and by the end of last season, she had a great boyfriend and was running her show [Blue Justice],'' Schiff says. ''We realized that was more than almost perfect. We needed something that would open up the story lines.''
''Not having one specific guy on the show offers a lot of comedic opportunities,'' agrees Travis, 34. Making sure those opportunities are exploited, the show hired supervising producer Carol Leifer, formerly of Seinfeld, who is widely considered to be the basis for the Elaine character. In one upcoming Leifer-penned script, Travis agrees to date a dorky guy (droll comic Steven Wright) simply because he lives in a ratings-box household. ''I feel for Kim,'' says Travis, who has been married to film producer Rob Fried for two and a half years. ''I'd say my dating experiences ranged from sublime to ridiculous 80 percent being ridiculous.''
By scheduling the sitcom on a strong night, following The Nannyand Pearl, CBS is giving Almost Perfect a shot, but will it make it after all? ''I don't know if the changes will bring in more viewers,'' Travis confesses. ''If I could figure that out, I'd forget this actress thing and be running the network.''
Posted Oct 11, 1996
An Article from the Baltimore Sun
Better than 'Almost Perfect' Actor: Kevin Kilner made the jump from soap operas to films, and he stars in tonight's CBS movie, 'Timepiece.'
December 22, 1996|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF
For a guy whose year included being dumped from his co-starring role in the TV sitcom "Almost Perfect," Kevin Kilner sounds pretty upbeat about 1996. He even refuses to complain about the fate of his character, Los Angeles Assistant District Attorney Mike Ryan, who was written out of the show in September's season premiere.
"I went from being a New York theater actor to the point where, everywhere I go in this country, and even overseas, people recognize me and stop me. 'Almost Perfect' put me on the map," says Kilner. The Baltimore County native's career trajectory has gone from Dulaney High and Johns Hopkins lacrosse standout to banker to barely-making-it-actor to sitcom boyfriend and now to the starring role in tonight's CBS holiday movie, "Timepiece."
All in all, he reflects, 1996 has worked out pretty well. After his departure from "Almost Perfect," he did a guest shot on Showtime's "Poltergeist: The Series" and filmed a TV movie starring "NYPD Blue's" Kim Delaney that's scheduled to air in February. Right now, he's calling from Chicago, where he's two weeks into filming "Home Alone 3," playing the father to kid-star-in-the-making Alex D. Linz.
And tonight on WJZ, Channel 13, it's "Timepiece," a prequel to last season's acclaimed "The Christmas Box." In it Kilner and Naomi Watts portray a young 1940s couple whose lives are shattered by a family tragedy, but restored by a Christmas visit that reminds them of the power
of forgiveness. Fans of "Box," which was based on Richard Paul Evans' best-selling novelette ("Timepiece," his second book, was published earlier this year), already know what that tragedy is, and they'll recognize the mother as Mary Parkin, the persnickety old woman played in the earlier telefilm by Maureen O'Hara.
Like its predecessor, "Timepiece" is a paean to traditional Christian values, especially faith, family and forgiveness. Angels float in and out of the plot, good triumphs over all, and people do the right thing. Which, Kilner believes, explains the stories' popularity.
"They appeal to the best part of people, or at least to the best part of themselves that they aspire to," he says. "I like to think that we all aspire to being compassionate, being forgiving, being loyal, and having a set of ethics and standards by which we live our lives."
But more important, at least as far as Kilner is concerned, is his character's journey "from being at worst an atheist and at best an agnostic, to someone who becomes a believer in the power of faith and love and forgiveness and understanding. For someone who begins with very little faith, I think he ends up believing in a higher power and being changed by it."
It's the journey itself, he says, and not so much where it takes him, that attracted Kilner to the role.
"The most interesting stories to me are stories where a character starts out in one place and learns something, and comes to hopefully a better place, of more understanding and more empathy or compassion for whatever situation he's been put through."
For Kilner, "Timepiece" represents the next step in his own journey, one that may have taken awhile to get started, but has unfolded quickly since his 1994 breakthrough role in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie."
The role came just as Kilner was getting ready to abandon any hope of making a living as an actor. After nine years in New York, scraping by on money earned in commercials (he was the guy with the beer-loving dog in a series of mid-'80s spots for Stroh's beer) and the occasional play, he was ready to chuck it all and go back to school, with an eye toward a career teaching and maybe coaching lacrosse. He had auditioned for "The Glass Menagerie" two months earlier, but had heard nothing.
"I was doing comedy in the Berkshires, expecting to go back to school in the fall, when I got the call," he remembers.
His performance as the Gentleman Caller earned Kilner a Theater World award as one of Broadway's top newcomers, as '' well as nominations for the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. It also earned him the praise of "Menagerie" star Julie Harris, who told him she had seen plenty of Gentleman Callers, including the original more than 50 years ago, but never one to match his. When "Menagerie's" producers insisted they wanted a big name for the role, she refused to star in the play unless Kilner was cast.
High praise indeed, and one both critics and casting directors seemed to agree with. "It sort of put me on the map in the New York theater world," Kilner says of his three-month stint in the play. "Doors that were previously closed to me were now opened."
Those doors eventually led to "Almost Perfect," about a TV series producer whose hard edges served her well on the set, but maybe not as well at home. Kilner admits to being floored when told over the summer that he would no longer be playing series star Nancy Travis' boyfriend on the show, which barely made it into its second season before being canceled last month by CBS. And if pressed, he'll admit he found the decision puzzling, given the show's critical reception and the on-screen chemistry he and Travis displayed.
"The hardest thing in Hollywood to find is chemistry between a man and a woman; I call that finding lightning in a bottle," says Kilner, 38, stressing that he's not bitter, only bewildered. "When you capture lightning in a bottle, you never mess with the cork. From critics to fan mail to people in the street, people loved that relationship."
But being let go from a TV series, he carefully explains, is like being one of those small animals that gets run over on the highway. "You have two options: You either pop up like a 'Roadrunner' cartoon and just keep going or you just lay there on the road and be road kill. I'm never going to be road kill."
To watch some clips from Almost Perfect go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=almost+perfect+tv+show&aq=f
For more on Almost Perfect go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almost_Perfect
For an episode guide go to https://web.archive.org/web/20001109112300/https://www.torget.se/users/n/nozick/diverse/almostperfect.txt
What killed Almost Perfect? Read here... http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2014/06/what-killed-our-series.html and http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2014/06/what-killed-our-show-follow-up.html
For some Almost Perfect-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/almost-perfect
To listen to the theme song of Almost Perfect go to http://www.televisiontunes.com/Almost_Perfect.html
� Date: Wed June 28, 2006 � Filesize: 38.2kb � Dimensions: 320 x 320 �
Keywords: Nancy Travis Kevin Kilner (Links Updated 7/23/18)