Originally scheduled to debut last fall, ABC’s “Baby Talk” has had a gestation period long enough for multiple births. After its premiere at 8:30 tonight on Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42, however, you may be tempted to push it back into the womb.
Based on the theatrical movie “Look Who’s Talking,” this comedy series centers on a career woman named Maggie Campbell (Julia Duffy), the unmarried mother of 9-month-old Mickey. The child’s wisecracking comments are heard only by other babies and, unfortunately, by us. (The voice belongs to “Who’s the Boss?” star Tony Danza.)
Tonight, Maggie has a brief romance with a handsome, single father she meets at the pediatrician’s office. Next week’s episode (which will air in the program’s regular 9:30 p.m. slot) finds Maggie taking Mickey on an audition for a baby food commercial arranged by a smarmy advertising man hoping to take her to bed.
Duffy (who got the role after Connie Sellecca withdrew because of ye olde “creative differences”) nicely underplays Maggie against the broader comedy of her contractor (George Clooney) and his goofy underlings (William Hickey and Lenny Wolpe), who are building a nursery in her downtown residence. Unfortunately, the Hickey role resurrects that long-ago-discredited stock character, the supposedly funny drunk.
However, it’s the Mickeyspeak--reacting to his mother and schmoozing with other adult-sounding infants--on which the comedy mostly hinges. And except for some Shakespearean dialogue given a sniffy infant actor next week, the baby talk is strained and unfunny.
What’s more, the omnipresent Danza voice becomes as grating as these mostly lame lines, turning ABC’s newest comedy series into something that could be retitled “Who’s the Baby?”