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6 FRIENDS (NBC) Overexposure has led to a widespread underrating of this still-excellently written, hilariously performed show.
True, Lisa Kudrow’s Phoebe seems stuck in a dumb-chick rut, and David Schwimmer’s Ross is becoming dismayingly sappy.
I’m thinking not only of the racism embedded in the soul of Andy Sipowicz (the earthshakingly good Dennis Franz) but of the increasing complexity of Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits).
Whether Bobby was cruelly slapping around that squirrelly little creep Henry (Willie Garson), or finding himself unable to resist the little-boy selfishness that’s been mucking up his relationship with Diane (Kim Delaney), Smits somehow managed to make every flicker in Bobby’s mind register on his stoic face.
The ongoing theme — alien invasions in the time of the Kennedy administration — manages to be boring, trite, and tasteless all at the same time.
4 THE JEFF FOXWORTHY SHOW (NBC) The redneck routines that brought Foxworthy fame were pleasant, innocuous bits, but in retooling the comic’s flop ABC sitcom, the NBC version turns his material into marathons of joke-free vulgarity.
2 THE X-FILES (Fox) The concept most alien to this show — displays of simple human emotions — is what kept The X-Files fresh and intriguing this season.
1 NYPD BLUE [PROGRAM of the YEAR] (ABC) TV’s most varied, humane, and exciting drama took more chances this year than a hit show needs to, and became a deeper, richer series for the effort.
Earlier this year, cocreator Steven Bochco told EW: ”This is now [cocreator-producer] David Milch’s show; if I disappeared tomorrow, the quality of that show would not suffer for a second.” And a key to Milch’s production work this season is his knowledge that once you’ve set up a character people care about, that creation can do questionable, even bad things, and the viewers won’t merely accept the behavior but feel that badness in their bones.
So far, the David-less new season has been uneven but agreeably wacky.
High point thus far: Michael Richards’ Kramer accidentally entering the corporate world and having his entire business career rise and fall in the space of 30 minutes.