‘O’Keefes’ puts nice spin on fish-out-of-water yarn

Times Staff Writer

With the flurry of season finales signaling the end of new series episodes until the fall (or for the more ratings-challenged of the group, merely the end), comes a show actually making its debut tonight at 8:30 on the WB. Unusual, to say the least, but “The O’Keefes” is an unusual show, and a pretty good one at that.

Based loosely on the experiences of executive producer and writer Mark O’Keefe, the series stars Judge Reinhold and Kirsten Nelson as the parents and home-school teachers of three offspring. Fearful of the debilitating effect of pop culture on their brood, Dad and Mom have sheltered them from the evils of the world but also from everyday life. Teens Danny (Joseph Cross) and Lauren (Tania Raymonde) and younger brother Mark (Matt Weinberg) can speak six languages but are totally flummoxed when encountering a slang-slinging peer from the outside realm.

The teens, champing at the bit, manage to persuade their folks to enroll them in the public high school, establishing a fish-out-of-water vibe that’s a delight. Flair-to-spare direction by Andy Ackerman adds nice surreal touches, and the music choices are note-perfect.

But there’s a cloud on the horizon, and it’s a doozy. The series has filmed only five episodes, so barring huge ratings, this brief run is going to be it for “The O’Keefes.” Enjoy it while you can.