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TV Show Review: 'Thea'

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Were it not for the presence of Thea Vidale and the four talented young actors who play her children, Thea (ABC, Wednesdays, 8-8:30 p.m.) would be a worthless single-mom sitcom in a season rotten with them. Vidale, a stand-up comic with a huge, booming voice and eyes that radiate bright sarcasm, plays Thea Turrell, who rules her brood with a tough-love roar: There’s more discipline in an episode of Thea than in your average Madonna video. It’s nice (and unusual) to see wiseacre TV children brought to heel. Too bad the rest of Thea is so trite. We’ve already seen the exhausted kids-do-something- naughty-while-Mom-is-out plot; in this case, middle son Jerome (Jason Weaver) invited pals over for a pay-per-view prizefight, referring to himself as ”Don King with a sensible haircut.” The message of Thea is self-improvement. Thea is taking a night class in supermarket management: ”I’m not planning on punching a cash register for the rest of my life.” She works hard and makes her children (Weaver, Adam Jeffries, Brandy Norwood, and Brenden Jefferson) work hard too. But viewers have to work too hard to find laughs. C+