October 23, 1996

Abc’ ‘Relativity’ Theory Assumes Time For Discovery

Mike Duffy Detroit Free Press
 

No time to panic, no time to fret.

It’s no reason to mope just because the most refreshing new drama series of the fall season is getting kicked in the face by Chuck Norris.

“Relativity,” a witty and sophisticated romance, is a tough sell. It’s gentle, sweet and smart. There are no cheap thrills.

And so at 10 p.m. on Saturdays, CBS’s entrenched “Walker, Texas Ranger” is pounding the frijoles out of the charming, low-key “Relativity.” It’s fortunate ABC is taking the long view.

The network realizes viewers may take a while to discover this enchanting slice of contemporary drama, a sharply observed portrait of the love between young Isabel Lukens (Kimberly Williams) and Leo Roth (David Conrad).

Part of the problem is that there’s nothing like “Relativity” on TV.

“I think it’s easier to be cynical,” said “Relativity” executive producer Edward Zwick.

“I think the temptation often among writers is to write about anything other than real, true, deep feeling.”

Zwick and partner Marshall Herskovitz created “thirtysomething.” And they also produced “My So-Called Life,” the absorbing but short-lived exploration of adolescence starring Claire Danes. So they know the high-quality, low-ratings syndrome.

And so does Jason Katims, the creator of “Relativity” and a former writer-producer on “My So-Called Life.” In exploring the relationship of Isabel and Leo, he is trying to touch on the “challenges to intimacy” that occur after a whirlwind meeting of the hearts.

“What the show is really about is two people who are in love with each other but don’t yet know each other,” Katims said.

And as Isabel and Leo get to know each other, there are sometimes unsettling, dizzying discoveries about personal quirks, about brothers and sisters, about mothers and fathers, about those true, deep feelings.

“I think to try to talk about that thing that happens between two people, that becomes sustaining and abiding and changes your life requires a certain amount of bravery in the midst of a much more cynical world,” Zwick said.

Especially on Saturday nights when you’re getting kicked in the teeth by that macho hombre Chuck Norris.


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