TV REVIEW : 'Professor's' Channing Daringly Comic on KCET

Judge Reinhold is "The Sad Professor," the title character in the fourth installment of this season's KCET comedy series "Trying Times" (Sunday at 8 p.m. and Tuesday at 10 p.m. on Channel 28).

This professor starts crying at unexpected moments. Although barely 30, he's going through a premature mid-life crisis. He's tired of his perfectly supportive wife (Linda Purl). Suddenly his salvation becomes clear in a dream--he casts his eye on an English department colleague, the slatternly Hilde Bundt (Stockard Channing). Call him crazy, but he falls for her.

The half-hour, written by Richard Greenberg and directed by Christopher Guest, is most notable for Channing's bitter, blowzy Hilda, a daringly comic performance. Reinhold and Purl are fine, but the writing doesn't have the resonance of the opening two episodes of this year's "Trying Times."

Still, it's an improvement over last week's episode, Albert Innaurato's "Death and Taxes," a laborious fantasy about an orthopedic-shoe salesman (Peter Scolari) who runs into trouble with the IRS.

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