TV REVIEWS : 'To Grandmother's': Syrupy Dish Served

Adorable child, separated from parents, gets the better of a pair of bumbling thieves . . . "Home Alone 2"?

No, this small-screen offering with a familiar plot is ABC's family feature "To Grandmother's House We Go" (on ABC Sunday at 7 p.m., Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42), and, in all fairness, the similarity ends with that basic plot line.

Here, there are actually two adorable children involved, played by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, the 6-year-old twins who alternate as Michelle on the series "Full House." They're separated from their single mom (Cynthia Geary of "Northern Exposure") for the purest of reasons: They overhear her tearfully wish she could have a brief break from parenthood, so they decide to oblige by running away to Grandma's.

Before the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink happy ending, the girls wind up kidnaped by a husband-and-wife bandit team who claim to be Santa's elves. The bandits are played by Jerry Van Dyke ("Coach") and Rhea Perlman ("Cheers") as watered-down versions of their regular series roles: He excruciatingly dumb, she mildly abrasive; both with hearts of gold.

Sample repartee: "How come we never had kids?" asks Van Dyke. " 'Cause we're criminals, sweetheart," Perlman replies. That's a high point.

An inch deep and calculatingly sentimental, this syrupy saga was co-written by Boyd Hale and "Full House" creator Jeff Franklin, who also directed.

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