April 8, 2005 in Features

‘Fran’ depends on friendly boy toy

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate
 

“The Nanny” star Fran Drescher returns in the May/December romantic comedy “Living With Fran” (8:30 p.m., WB).

Drescher’s eponymous character is recently divorced from an unseen husband and living with her look-alike teen daughter Allison (Misti Traya, “Joan of Arcadia”). While that would be enough material for most sitcoms, “Fran” revolves around Fran’s torrid relationship with her new live-in boyfriend Riley (Ryan McPartlin, “Passions”), a handyman she met while embarking on her new post-divorce career as an interior decorator.

Riley is handsome, sensitive and attentive. And he also happens to be 26 years old, while Fran is old enough to have watched the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” You do the math.

The subject of Riley’s tender age becomes more apparent when Fran’s 21-year-old son Josh (Ben Feldman) returns to the fold after suffering a nervous breakdown and dropping out of medical school. This is supposed to be funny.

In addition to Fran’s new boy toy, Josh also discovers that his mother has adopted a strange musician Duane (Branden Williams), who is living in the closet of the gym that used to be Josh’s bedroom.

For those keeping score, this marks the second sitcom of the year with a “strange guy living in the closet” subplot. Tom Poston appeared on “Committed” as a dying clown living in Marni’s apartment. Let’s hope it’s not a trend.

Fans of “The Nanny” will be sorely disappointed. On that show, Drescher’s loud and obvious pursuit of the urbane Mr. Sheffield set the stage for years of pratfalls, outrageous outfits and a graduate-level course in Yiddish slang.

Now, “Fran” already has her man. What’s so funny about that? It doesn’t help that the affable Riley has all of the edge of a Labrador retriever.

Drescher seems to be counting on her audience to root for a woman of a certain age who has retained her youthful figure, amorous vigor and girlish attitude.

Riley’s Oedipal fling with Fran looms large in the show’s second episode (9:30 p.m., WB) when Fran invites her lover’s parents, Tom (John Schneider, “Smallville”) and Donna (Marilu Henner “Taxi”), over for dinner. The gang wind up in the hospital waiting room when nervous Riley cuts his finger while carving the roast, and Fran and Donna compete over who gets to “mother” the wounded boy.

The superhero teen cheerleader gets her own movie, “Kim Possible: So the Drama” (8 p.m., Disney).

For the uninitiated, Kim’s a little different. The brilliant daughter of a rocket science dad and a brain surgeon mom, Kim spends her down time saving the world from evil. Her martial artistry allows her to spend much of her healthy social life on the phone or instant messaging her pals.

But Kim feels a tad deficient in the boyfriend department – unless you count her hapless sidekick Ron and his pet naked mole rat. It seems that all of the evil in the world can’t keep Kim down, but the prospect of a dateless prom night could be her undoing.

Other highlights

God-given chores on “Joan of Arcadia” (8 p.m., CBS).

Jordan takes an important step towards manhood on the season finale of “Bernie Mac” (8 p.m., Fox).

Suspicions fall on a bombing survivor on “JAG” (9 p.m., CBS).

Awkward partners on “Third Watch” (9 p.m., NBC).

Jack finds Marwan’s lair on “24” (9 p.m., Fox).

A bank robber’s pattern emerges on “Numb3rs” (10 p.m., CBS).

A fool for a client on “Law & Order: Trial By Jury” (10 p.m., NBC).

Scheduled on “20/20” (10 p.m., ABC): an interview with Rosie O’Donnell.

Cult choice

The fraudulent dictator of Freedonia (Groucho Marx) declares war on a neighboring kingdom in the 1933 satire “Duck Soup” (5 p.m., TCM), part of an 11 film marathon of movies featuring the Marx Brothers, beginning with “The Coconuts” (5:30 a.m.).

Series notes

On back-to-back episodes of “8 Simple Rules” (ABC), quite a nap (8 p.m.), and a Friday spell (8:30 p.m.) … Audience choice on “Star Trek: Enterprise” (8 p.m., UPN) … Spring break antics on “What I Like About You” (8 p.m., WB) … Musical theater on “Malcolm in the Middle” (8:30 p.m., Fox).

Doubts about Charley on “Hope & Faith” (9 p.m., ABC) … Tyra Banks hosts “America’s Next Top Model” (9 p.m., UPN) … Pageant wars on “Reba” (9 p.m., WB).

Hands-on experience on “Less Than Perfect” (9:30 p.m., ABC).


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