Sitcoms have been sidling up to bars almost from TV's inception. Now comes Fox's "Costello," titled not after the South Boston tavern where much of this comedy takes place (the Bulldog), but after series lead Sue Costello.
She plays barmaid Sue Murphy, whose six months of psychotherapy and decision to dump her big duh of a boyfriend, PJ, is utterly befuddling to her pals and family. Her desire to beef up her vocabulary by learning a word a day is the talk of the bar. And her notions about improving her mind in the egghead arena of higher education? Get outta here!
These are blue collars, you see, a bunch of pugs (including her parents, played by Dan Lauria and Jenny O'Hara) incapable of vision or subtle thinking. Hence, "Costello" is a sort of working-class "Cheers," but much lighter on the laughs and heavier on the stereotypes in this initial outing. The characters are loud and boorish, even for Fox, and some of the language is as coarse as anything ever run on a network at 8:30 p.m.
Although Costello, a stand-up comic, displays no acting range beyond a frozen sardonic smile, she can deliver a one-liner, and the self-educating Rita she plays is likable and distinctive. The premiere finds feisty Sue moving back home with her parents, unbowed ("I don't want people to define me. I want to find out on my own what I want") and positioning herself to receive familial support despite her differences with her parents.