Some old sitcom pros return to TV tomorrow at 8 p.m. on - Fox???
The supposedly young and edgy network matches a pair of leads whose collective age is 101 in a comedy that seems like it was made in 1956.
You have to admire Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton for holding up their end of the bargain, even if the material in their show, Back to You, is such a drop from Frasier and Everybody Loves Raymond, where they were last regularly seen.
As if WKRP in Cincinnati and The Mary Tyler Moore Show never existed, producers have set the show in the newsroom of Pittsburgh's fictional WURG, where you've got such stock characters as a hot mama, a clueless misogynist, and a resentful journeyman reporter. There is one new wrinkle: a fat news director who sweats a lot.
That original touch adds so much to the proceedings, the studio audience cannot withhold its raucous laughter.
Grammer plays anchorman Chuck Darling, whose steadily rising career took a bad turn (just like Grammer's itself, apparently) when, thinking he was off-camera, he blew up in an off-color tirade against a pretty colleague in Los Angeles.
So he's back to Pittsburgh - what a tragic downfall! - where his journey began 10 years before, and where he's reunited with his old anchor-desk partner, Kelly Carr (Heaton), who hasn't gone anywhere.
"I cannot do this again with you, you preening gasbag," she blurts in a weak moment.
There is a certain Frasier Crane gaseousness to his character, but at least the producers - more old pros: Steven Levitan (Just Shoot Me) and Christopher Lloyd (Frasier) - withhold jokes about flatulence.
No such luck with wiener and vagina bons mots and endless repartee about Chuck and Kelly's sexual skills.
The hoochie-coochie weather girl, Montana Diaz Herrera, gets more than her share of attention.
Darling, the professional, coaches her: "The way you speak, you need to use your diaphragm more."
"Like that's possible," mutters the going-nowhere reporter, Gary Crezyzewski, whose name nobody can pronounce, ha-ha.
Back to You also features ageless Fred Willard, who, according to IMDB, the Internet Movie Data Base, has appeared in 176 movies and TV shows from Fernwood 2 Night to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, yet another hilarious take on broadcast news that underscores how disappointing Back to You is.
If you're counting, Willard turns 68 today, and happy birthday to you, Fred, who can be funny just standing there.
Unfortunately, like his two other veteran colleagues, he has to mouth the lines he is given.
Trying to console Cryzyzewski, bitter about being passed over for the news team's glamour job, Darling says, "What's an anchor, but a loud guy who can keep people from flipping the channels?"
With this show, it's hard to imagine Grammer and Heaton being able to do the same.
Debuts at 8 p.m. tomorrow on Fox29