TV REVIEWS : CBS Family Comedies: Relatively Few Laughs

Times Television Critic

Two comedies premiere back-to-back on CBS tonight (Channels 2 and 8). Neither is funny.

“Live-In” (at 8 p.m.) finds pretty Australian Lisa Wells (Lisa Patrick) saying “G’day” as live-in help for the Mathews family of New Jersey. She’s a mini-skirted nanny with a fanny, her assignment to care for the Mathews’ infant daughter and elude the clutches of their older son Danny (Chris Young).

Lisa gets mad when Danny and his friend (Lightfield Lewis) try to see Lisa in the nude. Then she gets mad when he tries to come on to her. Then he gets at her for rejecting him. This is dumb.


Following “Live-In” is “Heartland” (8:30 p.m.), which is CBS’ answer to Fox’s “Married . . . with Children,” a sort of “Married . . . with Pigs.”

The setting is a Nebraska farm, home for Tom and Casey Stafford (Richard Gilliland and Kathleen Layman), their two sons (Jason Kristofer and Devin Ratray), adopted Vietnamese daughter (Daisy Keith) and Casey’s father, B. L. McCutcheon (Brian Keith, in his seventh series).


On the premiere, a tornado sends them all into the cellar for safety. The scene begins promisingly, but the family survives.

B.L. is crusty, but yessssssss, lovable--one of them-thar’ lovable bigots. At least he looks like he belongs on a farm, compared with the rest of the family, who look like they’re dressed up as farmers for a costume party.

This is TV’s new class--the rural hip. Despite their words (“We got a big day tomorrow, boys. We gotta finish cuttin’ that wheat”), you can’t imagine these people with dirt under their nails or straw under their feet.

The funniest thing about the opener is unintentional--a scene where seven people (the family and a visitor) sit squeezed together around only half of the round kitchen table, leaving the other half open so that the camera will have a clear view of everyone from the front.

Farm folk--Hollywood style.