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TV REVIEWS : ‘Home’: Another Multi-Generation Sitcom

One of these days, someone will create a comedy series about a big, bustling household in which everyone thinks alike and gets along.

Nahhhhhh.

So here we go again with “Home Free,” an ABC sitcom about three generations of a family crammed into a single house--eating together, sleeping together and fighting together. It premieres at 8:30 tonight on Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42.

Matthew Perry is 22-year-old Matt Bailey. Marian Mercer is his mother. And Diana Canova is Matt’s divorced 37-year-old sister, who has come back home to live with her young son and daughter. Uh oh.

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“Home Free” is divided between the tumultuous Bailey homefront and Matt’s work front, a small newspaper where his fellow reporter, the bumbling Walter (Dan Schneider), serves as a comic foil. Thus do high jinks hit the fan.

Anything with the adroit Mercer in it can’t be all bad, and it’s her occasional glints of caustic humor--at the expense of the immature Matt--that keep the premiere from bottoming out.

Yet even she is largely obscured by the TV formulism that clouds this routine series. In both this and next week’s episodes--the latter about Matt’s attempt to be a columnist while also trying to reunite Walter with his father--Matt interrupts his foolish behavior just long enough to do something for someone else out of the goodness of his heart.

This produces no laughs, only the kind of manipulative false sentiment that “Home Free” appears destined to make a habit of.

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