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TV REVIEWS : 'Dream On' a Sexy, Urbane Comedy Series on HBO

July 07, 1990|HOWARD ROSENBERG

Prepare for fun.

HBO's 13-part "Dream On" is just that--a sexy, urbane, sneaky, funny little comedy series whose 10 p.m. Sunday premiere jump starts the summer TV season. This is a rare TV union where cast, writers and directors appear to be of a single comedic mind; the humorous results speak for themselves.

Against his wishes, book editor Martin Tupper (Brian Benben) is about to become a single parent after stalling his wife (Wendie Malick) on signing the divorce papers. It's going to be an amicable split, however, allowing her to re-enter his life each week as they share his dilemmas and the custody of their son (Chris Demetral).

After beginning slowly, the premiere ignites at its midway point, soaring from tepid to torrid when Martin has a series of nervous dates--first with a married woman, then a neurotic, then a kinky masochist who wants him to smear her body with whipped cream and lick it off. Martin: "I'm a little concerned about the cholesterol."

Dialogue in the clever opening scripts (written by producers David Crane and Marta Kauffman) is accented by Martin's flashbacks to ancient TV shows that comically parallel his life. Although overworked in the premiere--directed by executive producer John Landis--this device is just a howl in the wittier, bawdier, better-directed (by Betty Thomas) second episode, which finds Martin on a health kick after suffering symptoms of a heart attack while writhing in bed with an anxious-to-please student.

"I'll do anything you want," she says. "9-1-1," he gasps. "I've never done that," she says.

It's a good cast, with Benben's easy way perfectly suited to the adult material. And also check out scene-swiping Denny Dillon as Martin's acerbic witch of a secretary/assistant in this enormously likable series that deserves to dream on indefinitely.

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