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'Cybill' Is a Promising Addition to CBS Lineup

January 02, 1995|HOWARD ROSENBERG | TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

With ABC's "Moonlighting" already under her belt, Cybill Shepherd may have come up with another bright flame as a gadabout L.A. actress in the new CBS comedy series "Cybill."

Shades of Steve Martin in "L.A. Story," Cybill Sheridan (Shepherd) and a friend are barely flustered when an earthquake briefly punctuates their lunch at a trendy restaurant ("What do you think, 3.6?"). Nor does she appear perturbed when halted by freeway gridlock.

There's also talk of coyotes, illegal immigrants and other identifiable locale traits. We know that this is not really Los Angeles, however, because Cybill is in an open convertible and no one's shooting at her.

This credibility lapse aside, there's enough in the premiere of "Cybill" to deliver a strong whiff of \o7 deja vu \f7 for Angelenos, and enough needled dark humor--the contrasting sophisticated wit and Shepherd's earthiness are an interesting mix--to make this promising entry in the CBS comedy lineup something you'd be apt to return to.

When it comes to TV, Shepherd's comedy pedigree has the sheen of a winner. She co-starred as a privileged private eye with Bruce Willis on ABC's "Moonlighting" in the late 1980s, and nothing on TV was ever better than "Moonlighting" at its best.

Also on the pampered side, Shepherd's character in "Cybill" is a bit actress and mother of two who somehow lives a swanky lifestyle in the hills while fretting about the ravages of middle age, running around with her neurotic best friend (Christine Baranski) and getting caught up in situations that are sometimes as amusing as they are unlikely. Tonight that includes her three former husbands arriving at her house almost simultaneously with a guy she's supposed to be out on a date with.

One of her ex-husbands is a stuntman whom she tosses a compliment: "Nobody's head burns like yours." Just how long "Cybill" flames on CBS remains to be seen, but the premiere indicates that the future could be bright.

\o7 * "Cybill" premieres at 9:30 tonight on CBS.\f7

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