“Mr. President” is more softcom than sitcom, a half hour that amuses without being silly, an urbane and very human series from Fox premiering at 9 p.m. Sunday on Channels 11 and 6. It returns George C. Scott to weekly TV for the first time since 1963.

That was the year that Scott played a frustrated social worker in the fleeting-but-excellent “East Side/West Side” on CBS. Obviously, he has discriminating taste in TV series.

In this one he plays newly elected President Samuel Arthur Tresch, a former Wisconsin governor who is adjusting, with his wife Meg (Carlin Glynn) and two teen-age kids, to living in the White House.


A Johnny Carson production co-created by Gene Reynolds (“MASH” and “Lou Grant”) and Ed. Weinberger (“Taxi” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”), “Mr. President” draws its unforced, low-humming humor from behind-the-scenes First Family life, not politics. A sort of man for all parties, Tresch’s political affiliation is unmentioned.

Despite their exalted status, the President and First Lady are defined in Weinberger’s intelligent opening script as real people, not stereotypes. Glynn is very appealing, and it’s hard imagining a better Tresch than Scott--a great, spewing, growling harumph of an actor who has the skills to be a credibly serious character within a comedy. He looks and seems at once presidential and familial.

What a refreshing change “Mr. President” is from last week’s unfunny, barely watchable sneak preview of another Fox comedy, “Down and Out in Beverly Hills.”

There is nothing down and out about “Mr. President,” which is not the first TV comedy set in the White House or even Washington, but which promises to be the best.