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Adaptation Gives Witty Voice to ‘Baby Blues’

TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

Comic strips rarely transfer well to television, the WB’s promising new “Baby Blues” being a welcome exception in this animation milieu.

Its genesis is the popular newspaper strip, by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, that follows the adventures of Darryl and Wanda MacPherson, a suburban young couple tenuously adjusting to parenting their infant Zoe. It isn’t always pretty.

Viewers are getting two back-to-back “Baby Blues” episodes per Friday through the summer, with tonight’s amusingly underplayed double-length premiere having Darryl and Wanda (voiced by Mike O’Malley and Julia Sweeney, respectively) typically respond to the pressures of parenthood by trespassing on some kind of outrageous alien turf.

That scenario has Wanda’s quest to be a “cool mom” propelling her to a wayward night on the town with the couple’s hip young baby-sitter, Bizzy (Nicole Sullivan), and her ditsy friends. The generational clash turns out to be, like, totally fun--with Drew Carey (as himself) somehow getting into the act--and as disastrous for Wanda as a brush with an exotic dancer named the Birthday Girl is for Darryl in the second half of the hour.

The voices are very good, the writing wittily irreverent, and much like “The Simpsons,” secondary characters on “Baby Blues” are at least as funny as the protagonists. That includes not only Bizzy but the MacPhersons’ dysfunctional next-door neighbors, the lowbrow Carl (Joel Murray) and free-spirited Melinda (Arabella Field), whose own brand of parenting is potentially lethal. And just a sketch is their 8-year-old son, the felonious Rodney (Kath Soucie). Like, wow.

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* “Baby Blues” can be seen Fridays at 8 p.m. on the WB. The network has rated it TV-PG-DL (may be unsuitable for young children, with special advisories for suggestive dialogue and coarse language).


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