The last thing we need is another post-Seinfeld NBC sitcom about a wacky white woman, but there’s one big difference between FIRED UP (NBC, Thursdays, 9:30-10 p.m.) and The Naked Truth (not to mention Suddenly Susan): It’s actually kinda cute. Taking on a role that’s far more fun than the increasingly docile Sylvia Costas on NYPD Blue, Sharon Lawrence goes gleefully over the top as a high-strung corporate exec who gets axed and starts a PR firm with her ex-assistant (Leah Remini). The affable supporting cast consists of Mark Feuerstein (Lea Thompson’s younger-man veterinarian boyfriend on Caroline in the City) as Remini’s aspiring-writer brother and Wiseguy‘s Jonathan Banks as a smarmy restaurateur. The writing isn’t up to Seinfeld‘s Must See standard, but Fired Up‘s loopy energy at least lifts it to the level of Might See TV.
It’s got big names on both sides of the camera — filmmakers Robert Altman, James Foley (The Chamber), and Ted Demme (Beautiful Girls), and actors Jennifer Tilly, Sean Young, Carrie Fisher, Rosanna Arquette, Daryl Hannah, Randy Quaid, and Daniel Stern. So why is ABC burying GUN (Saturdays, 10-11 p.m.) in a deadly slot? Maybe because the concept is too high — the series follows one weapon as it passes into the hands of a new owner each week. Maybe because there hasn’t been a hit anthology show since, what, The Twilight Zone? Or maybe because, judging from its premiere episode, Gun just isn’t powerful enough. ”The Shot” stars Stern as a failed actor who foils a convenience-store robbery and becomes a celebrity in the process. Perhaps if exec producer Altman had directed the show himself instead of handing off the task to Foley, ”The Shot” would have packed the satiric kick of The Player. Instead it plays like a lost episode of Steven Spielberg’s mid-’80s NBC anthology flop, Amazing Stories.
While its title makes it sound like another wretched tv movie, WHEN INNOCENCE IS LOST (Lifetime, April 7, 9-11 p.m.) is actually a merciful departure from the emotionally spastic norm. Keri Russell (she of the luxuriant blond curls and Malibu Shores), plays Erica French, a teen mother whose boyfriend, Scott (Vincent Corazza), sues her for custody when she enters college and puts her baby in day care. A series of maddening frustrations follow: Scott calls Erica a bad mother for allowing ”strangers” raise their baby, all the while letting his child-support payments lapse, and Erica and her financially strapped mom (Jill Clayburgh) are forced through a character-assassinating custody trial. Calm, solid performances, a restrained yet powerful approach, and a bittersweet ending add up to a tv movie that won’t make you feel like you need a shower. — Kristen Baldwin
It’s official: Harvey Keitel works too much. For every Reservoir Dogs or Bad Lieutenant, there’s another City of Industry or HEAD ABOVE WATER (HBO, April 12, 8-10 p.m.), an alleged black comedy that bypassed theaters to go straight to cable. Keitel’s on autopilot as a Maine judge with a younger wife (Cameron Diaz). Their vacation is ruined when she discovers the dead body of her nutjob ex-lover (The Phantom‘s Billy Zane) in her bed. For a while, Head Above Water plays like an art-film version of Weekend at Bernie‘s, as Diaz tries to hide the stiff from her hubby. After Keitel discovers the body, however, Head gets boring, drowning in a sea of its own self-consciously quirky pretentiousness. And Diaz’s vacant performance confirms that her charming debut in The Mask was just one more of that film’s amazing special effects.