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TV REVIEWS : Want Some Good Advice? Don't Watch

April 02, 1993|HOWARD ROSENBERG

"Good Advice," a CBS series starring Shelley Long as a marriage counselor with a philandering spouse and Treat Williams as a single divorce lawyer with an attitude, is bad comedy.

They play Susan DeRuzza and Jack Harrold, who share an office suite but not the same professional philosophy as she seeks to repair the kind of dysfunctional marriages from which he ultimately earns his living.

The dysfunctionally broad, scattershot, abrasive premiere airs at 9:30 tonight on Channels 2 and 8, displacing "Bob," which is moving to 8:30 p.m. Mondays in place of "Hearts Afire," which has completed its first-run season.

A renowned psychologist-author whose marital advice inspires millions, Susan returns from a book tour tonight to discover her husband, Joey (Christopher McDonald), bedding down with another woman. The short-term result is a bedroom row and separation that produce a spate of low-brow, flip gags that ensnare even the couple's confused young son (Ross Malinger), who innocently wonders why his mother has ordered his father from the house.

"Did Dad have a party and not invite you?"

"Yes, he did."

Big laughter.

The long-term impact remains to be seen. But in a slapsticky scene that simply bombs, Susan and her later-contrite husband do subsequently have it out at her office in front of Jack, the receptionist, a newspaper photographer and chiropractor Artie Cohen (George Wyner), another of Susan's office mates, who is described as her "Jewish uncle." Whatever that means.

Although Williams' comedy aptitude has been previously untested on television, Long's talents as a grand farceur were emblazoned across the early years of NBC's "Cheers." But only brief glimmers of those skills are visible in this new character, who is oppressively all over the place in the premiere while providing little to laugh about.

That Susan and Jack will continue to clash is inevitable. That they will also be funny seems doubtful.

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