This sitcom version of Mike Nichols’ 1988 film stars Sandra Bullock in the Melanie Griffith role of Tess McGill, a young Staten Island woman working in corporate Manhattan.
Like a lot of TV adaptations of movies, this one changes the emphasis of the source material and alters its cast of characters considerably. There is, for example, no equivalent in this Working Girl to Harrison Ford’s handsome leading man; instead, there’s a handsome leading doofus played by George Newbern — he’s sort of the yuppie, executive version of Tom Poston in Newhart. As in the movie, Tess graduates from secretary to junior executive, and the sitcom begins where the movie ended, as Tess settles into big-business life.
For a show overseen by co-executive producer Tom Patchett (ALF, The Bob Newhart Show), Working Girl is shockingly low in laughs. The rhythms of this comedy are all wrong: Bullock’s Tess wears a fixed grin and loses her Staten Island accent regularly; she seems to vanish from the screen every time Nana Visitor pops up as her boss.
In the movie, Sigourney Weaver played this role as a WASP cartoon, but Visitor reinvents it; she’s smart, sexy, and mean all at once.
Visitor’s viperish vamp stands out in this mediocre sitcom, upstaging not only Bullock but everyone else in sight. This, despite the fact that she must deliver lines like ”You live in Staten Island? I thought that was an amusement park.” Bullock: ”That’s Coney Island.”