We gave it a B
Perhaps because he’s done so little TV, actor/dancer Gregory Hines doesn’t seem to have any preconceptions of how a dad in a sitcom is supposed to behave. The result, in The Gregory Hines Show, is a different sort of father. Neither Bill Cosby-grumpy nor Ozzie Nelson-doofy, Hines’ Ben Stevenson is an enthusiastic, seriously silly, touchy-feely parent to his son, Matty (the appealing Brandon Hammond). Ben kisses his 12-year-old boy as often as he can pin the kid down, and when he hugs Matty, you get the feeling that he’s trying to pass his own life force into the lad.
Ben is a widower just re-entering the dating market, and some of the show will revolve around that awkwardness. More promising is the occasional presence of Ben’s father, James, a stiff-limbed sourpuss (Bill Cobbs). Between them, James, Ben, and Matty offer three generations of African-American men with personalities guaranteed to both clash and mesh in funny and perhaps even enlightening ways. So far, The Gregory Hines Show doesn’t have many big laughs, and whenever it leaves the Stevenson apartment to visit Ben’s mundane-seeming job as a Chicago book publisher, the show becomes seriously generic. But you know what? That almost doesn’t matter. There are plenty of places to go on TV for big yuks; many fewer places to see familial love portrayed with such bracing sincerity and spirit. B