Sitcom tries to spice things up to boost its ratings

By Jessica Shaw
Updated October 11, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Almost Perfect

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As anyone who’s been in a relationship knows, a lot can happen between May and October. And this summer has been particularly hard on TV couples. Take Almost Perfect‘s Kim (Nancy Travis) and Mike (Kevin Kilner). When last we saw them, pre-hiatus, they’d worked out their problems and were walking off into the CBS sunset. If you like Mike, you’ll be happy to see him in the series’ season opener. But don’t get used to it. ”The network found out everyone loved Nancy Travis but didn’t buy the relationship,” says executive producer and creator Robin Schiff. ”A lot of people felt the guy wasn’t as dynamic as she was.” Faster than you can say ”retool that series,” Mike was deep-sixed by the network.

At least he’s not swimming alone in the sitcom-relationship reject pool: Caroline in the City‘s Del (Eric Lutes) is now just a friend, while Friends‘ Richard (Tom Selleck) will be smoking his stogies elsewhere. And with the exit of Charlie (Jensen Daggett), The Single Guy‘s Jonathan Silverman is now living up to his series’ title. ”It’s important to a show to shake things up sometimes,” Schiff reasons.

Whatever the excuse, Almost Perfect — the only new CBS sitcom of last fall to survive the season — is hoping Kim’s newfound solo status will be the right marriage with the Wednesday-night audience. ”When the show started, Kim was single and a [TV] writer, and by the end of last season, she had a great boyfriend and was running her show [Blue Justice],” Schiff says. ”We realized that was more than almost perfect. We needed something that would open up the story lines.”

”Not having one specific guy on the show offers a lot of comedic opportunities,” agrees Travis, 34. Making sure those opportunities are exploited, the show hired supervising producer Carol Leifer, formerly of Seinfeld, who is widely considered to be the basis for the Elaine character. In one upcoming Leifer-penned script, Travis agrees to date a dorky guy (droll comic Steven Wright) simply because he lives in a ratings-box household. ”I feel for Kim,” says Travis, who has been married to film producer Rob Fried for two and a half years. ”I’d say my dating experiences ranged from sublime to ridiculous — 80 percent being ridiculous.”

By scheduling the sitcom on a strong night, following The Nanny and Pearl, CBS is giving Almost Perfect a shot, but will it make it after all? ”I don’t know if the changes will bring in more viewers,” Travis confesses. ”If I could figure that out, I’d forget this actress thing and be running the network.”

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Almost Perfect

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