Hopping mad about his move, Paul Reiser takes on Cybill (and Bart and Lois and Clark)

By Ken Tucker
Updated September 15, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Almost Perfect

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For years, as far as prime time went, Sunday was pretty sobersided, a solemn, day-of-rest mixture of news (60 Minutes), cozy mysteries (Murder, She Wrote), and dysfunction-dominated TV movies. That bratty Simpson kid made an occasional racket, but that was somewhere in the background (i.e., on Fox).

All that’s changed. This season, Sunday night is the site of one of the most furious chuckle-fests in recent years. At 7, CBS’ 60 Minutes, which saw its ratings wobble a little last year, and ABC’s wheezy America’s Funniest Home Videos, which got its second wind, will be facing two new NBC sitcoms, Brotherly Love and Minor Adjustments, the former featuring Blossom pinup boy Joey Lawrence.

At 8 p.m., all hell has broken loose. Murder, She Wrote has been sent packing to Thursday and seaQuest to Wednesday; ABC’s superpowers-‘n’-sex show, Lois & Clark, will instead face off against three popular sitcoms, NBC’s Mad About You and Hope & Gloria, and CBS’ Cybill — plus CBS’ new romantic comedy Almost Perfect. Angela Lansbury feels ‘shattered” about the Murder move. Reiser was so mad about the shift from must-see Thursday to might-miss Sunday that he refused to make a scheduled appearance this summer at NBC’s unveiling of the new schedule.

Moving Mad ”is a big risk,” admits NBC programmer Warren Littlefield, chipper from relocating Frasier to Tuesdays with great success, ”but it feels real good to us.” Reiser has since made peace with him. ”Right now he’s painting my house,” says the actor, ”and as soon as he’s done, I might have him do the garage.”

How exactly will Mad respond to its new competition? ”Big, big laughs — that’s our big plan,” Reiser says. More specifically: ”Jamie [Helen Hunt] gets a very cool job, Paul gets a big job. There’s a lot of baby discussion. And as the discussion starts getting more into ‘to have’ or ‘not to have,’ it strains the relationship.”

Any question about whether Mad will tone down its married-sexiness for early Sunday night is answered by Reiser’s description of the season opener: ”Jamie wakes up all aglow, and she thanks her husband profusely for what was apparently the best night of lovemaking ever. But Paul has no recollection. He slept through the entire thing, and apparently the sleeping Paul is much better than the awake Paul and he has to decide whether to keep this a secret.”

Over on CBS, the decision to move sophomore Cybill to Sundays, just as it was picking up steam on Mondays, hasn’t fazed its stars. This year, Cybill Shepherd says, viewers can expect ”more humiliation, lots more guys, and a birth in the first epi sode.” As far as whether 60 Minutes is a good lead-in for Cybill‘s snappy humor, she says oh-so-breezily, ”I think the 60 Minutes audience is pretty sophisticated. I hope so. There’re just no guarantees in life.” Costar Christine Baranski is already planning cross over ideas. ”Wouldn’t it be fun after Andy Rooney does his final thing for him to be on an episode dating Maryann? I’d like to see some cross-pollination with the men on 60 Minutes.” Hmm. Maybe Mike Wallace as Maryann’s favorite bartender?

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