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TV REVIEW : 'Dudley': Moore Debuts as a Micro-Dad

April 16, 1993|HOWARD ROSENBERG

Dudley Moore is making his U.S. television series debut in a modestly amusing comedy about a popular New York cabaret performer whose indulgent singlehood is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of his testy teen-age son.

CBS' "Dudley" premieres at 8:30 tonight on Channels 2 and 8, temporarily replacing "Major Dad," whose season has been completed. Divorced Dudley Bristol (Moore) is definitely a micro-dad, having paid scant attention over the years to his 14-year-old son, Fred (Harley Cross). Tonight, Fred arrives from California with Dudley's former wife, Laraine (Joanna Cassidy), who wants the rebellious youth to live with his father.

Already beset by a non-English-speaking Latina housekeeper (Lupe Ontiveros), a doormat manager (Max Wright) and a nasty cabaret-owner boss (Joel Brooks), Dudley is aghast at having to open his life to his son, but is finally convinced to give it a shot.

"Why don't we start by being absolutely honest to each other," he tells the slovenly Fred. "God, you look just great!"

Moore's skill at delivering sardonic, occasionally witty one-liners lifts the premiere of "Dudley" above the formulaic routine--but not far above. "Dudley" also allows Moore, an accomplished pianist, to spend a few minutes performing inside the cabaret, where his character is as polished and sophisticated on stage as he is ineffectual at home. Yet the opening episode's largely urbane tone is undermined by loud, giggly laughter from the easily entertained studio audience.

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