First-run comedy episodes are a rare thing this time of year. But that’s what’s on tap on ABC’s “Step By Step” at 8.
As usual, there are a couple of stories going on.
Frank (Patrick Duffy) is humbled when he thoughtlessly buys Carol (Suzanne Somers) an unromantic birthday gift. And Rich and Dana (Jason Marsden, Staci Keanan) do battle in a recycling contest - each with partners that make the other jealous.
Marsden, one of the series’ newest cast members, has been a hit as he and Dana have gone from bitter enemies to boyfriend and girlfriend.
Like Keanan (“My Two Dads”), he is a television veteran. He was just 10 when he starred as Eddie Munster in the syndicated series, “The Munsters Today.”
He says he knows that people don’t think “Step By Step” is the brainiest show on television - I’d include myself here - but that’s OK.
“Yeah, there have been some episodes that, even as I’ve been doing them, I’ve realized are not funny, are over the top, or people aren’t going to get them,” he told me in a recent interview.
“But the show is geared for 14- to 16-year-olds. And that’s an age range in which kids will either love the heck out of it or never turn it on.”
Marsden, who spends time surfing fan sites on the Internet, says fans believe that Rich and his relationship with Dana have given the show a boost.
“Kids get a kick out of that, and there’s still a great deal of potential for the show. The characters are so diverse that there’s plenty of room for anything to happen,” he says.
Marsden and company will see how far the show can go when it moves to CBS this fall.
“Dave’s World,” CBS at 8: The Barrys and friends reminisce about childhood Halloweens as Dave (Harry Anderson) stands guard over his personal pumpkin patch.
In a second repeat at 8:30, Beth (DeLane Matthews) gets carried away with a home redecorating project Dave is sure will break the bank, if not their marriage.
“Unsolved Mysteries,” NBC at 8: The repeat hour includes a report on the controversial use of bee venom to treat multiple sclerosis victims.
“JAG,” CBS at 9: When attempts are made on Adm. Chegwidden’s (John M. Jackson) life, Harm and Mac (David James Elliott, Catherine Bell) discover that he is the only member of his former Navy SEAL team who has not died under mysterious circumstances. Repeat.
“Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” ABC at 9: Raquel Welch plays Sabrina’s (Melissa Joan Hart) Aunt Vesta, who lives in a cool-sounding place called Pleasuredome. When Sabrina visits, Vesta tempts her with the idea of staying full time, which sends Aunts Hilda and Zelda (Caroline Rhea, Beth Broderick) into a tizzy. Repeat.
“Millennium,” FOX at 9: Black (Lance Henriksen) fights to stop a serial killer before his prey changes from animal to human. Repeat.
“Striptease” (1996), SHOW at 8: Safe to say it was commerce, not art, that was on the minds of just about everyone involved in the making of this box-office bust. The gamble was that people would pack theaters to see a mostly nude Demi Moore as a single mom who becomes a stripper to support her little girl (played by Moore’s daughter, Rumer Willis).
Burt Reynolds as a lecherous politician only adds to the cheapness of this misdirected comedy. It’s as subtle as a brick and forced at almost every turn.
Reminder to Showtime subscribers: The cable channel runs a movie set in a strip club about three nights a week. In many ways this one’s no better than the late-night cheapo flicks starring unknown actresses.
“Tonight,” NBC at 11:35: Actor Billy Connolly and musical group Motley Crue.
“Late Show With David Letterman,” CBS at 11:35: Actor Robert Pastorelli, talk-show host Craig Kilborn and music group Live.
“Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher,” ABC at 12:35 a.m.: Cindy Crawford, Herb Ritts and Elayne Boosler.
“Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” NBC at 12:35 a.m.: Author Fran Lebowitz, animal expert Jim Fowler and musical guest John Fogerty.
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