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March 11, 1998 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-03-11

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 11, 1998

Laughs run 'out'

By Jie Lin
For the Daily
After her much-discussed and highly
controversial coming-out show aired,
some people may have wondered
whether the
episode about
Ellen's sexuality
was going to be a
Ellen one-time deal and
"Ellen" would
return to its origi-
ABC nal format after-
Last Wednesday at ward.
9:30 p.m. Well, we can
stop wondering
because Ellen
hasn't stopped
bringing gay top-
ics to the air-
waves.
In fact, it's just the opposite. She
can't be stopped. Ever since Ellen
DeGeneres came out of the closet last
season, both in real-life and on her

show, she has made openly discussing
gay issues her crusade.
At least, nobody can accuse Ellen of
backing down. She has appeared every-
where from the cover of Time magazine
to the Oprah Winfrey Show discussing
her sexuality. But enough is enough.
There is such a thing as overkill, espe-
cially when Ellen is using her show to
try to send a message.
This past Wednesday night's
episode was no exception. In a desper-
ate effort to pull in ratings on the last
night of February Sweeps, Ellen asked
her real-life love Anne Heche to guest
star in the "Hospital" episode. Ellen
DeGeneres's character, Ellen Morgan,
ends up in the hospital waiting room
after learning that her girlfriend,
Laurie (Lisa Darr), has been in a car
accident. Who should Ellen meet
while in the hospital but Laurie's ex-
girlfriend Karen (Anne Heche). The
ex-girlfriend meets the girlfriend, and
things go from bad to ugly as the two

on Ellen
fight over Laurie.
Her character can have gay experi-
ences on the show, but the show is
beginning to have the feel of a hour-
long drama instead of a half-hour sit-
com. But viewers aren't looking for a
lecture -just a few good laughs.
After riding a wave last season with
the coming-out episode scoring the
highest ratings in the history of the
show, Ellen has come crashing down to
earth. "Ellen's" ratings are dropping
because viewers are losing interest. The
show is dangerously close to not being
renewed for next season.
ABC has already asked many sit-
coms such "The Drew Carey Show,"
"Spin City" and "Dharma and Greg" to
return for another season, but the net-
work is still holding out on "Ellen."
Some could argue that the show is too
hot to handle for the polished image
that the Walt Disney-owned network
wants to project. But a better explana-
tion is that the show is just not funny.

Courtesy of ABC
ABC tries to regain interest of young viewers with "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" premiering tonight at 9:30.
'Two adds oinaBC
but refreshing, spice lto AB-C

p

Lierar
Magazine
Reception
The Michigan Daily
and
Cava Java
would like to invite the public
to hear the winners of
The Daily's Literary Magazine
writing contest
read from their winning entries.
Friday, March 13 * 6-9 p.m.
Cava Java
(at the corner of S. University and E. University)

Check out
the Daily.
online at
http://www.
pub.umichsedu
/daily

By Michael Galloway
Daily Arts Writer
Good delivery, comic timing and constant action
can act like deodorant for overworked comedy rou-
tines and formulae.
Although it still needs a shower in some respects,
"Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place," ABC's new
Wednesday night sitcom is definitely funny.

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Two Guys, a
Girl and a
Pizza Place
ABC
Tonight at 9:30 p m.
the recommended

Two graduate students, Berg
(Ryan Reynolds) and Pete
(Richard Ruccolo) share an
apartment in Boston and work
at a pizzeria in order to pay their
bills.
The unscrupulous Berg has
coasted through a triple major
in college and through most of
life. Besides skipping class and
working at the pizzeria, Berg
often volunteers to be a paid as
a test subject for new medical
products in order to make some
extra money. As he explains it to
Pete, h s the guy that exceeds
daily dosage "so that they know

a well-paying, though completely immoral, job sell-
ing chemicals. Sharon feels like she's selling her
soul for a big paycheck, but she loves her Beemer
too much to quit the job that takes so much out of
her.
This moral dilemma is left for some future episode
to resolve - a wisely patient move on the part of the
producers.
In a comedy sitcom, the actual plot is secondary.
Laughter is the goal, and the writing and the acting
on the show is focused on making the dialogue and
the characters' interaction humorous. This first
episode works on one conflict, whether Pete and
Melissa will stay together, and intends to introduce
the cast.
Ryan Reynolds shows great comic timing as Berg,
and Richard Ruccolo works well with him. But
Ruccolo and Traylor Howard both have awkward
moments. Howard does best portraying Sharon at her
most irritable.
David Ogden Stiers of M*A*S*H fame is phe-
nomenonal as Mr. Bauer, a frequent patron of the
pizzeria who confuses his own life with the movies
lie has seen.
Creators and producers Kenny Schwartz, Rick
Wiener and Danny Jacobson, who was co-creator
and an executive producer of "Mad About You,"
deserve some praise for at least making a good sit-
com, if not original. The show isn't as good as "Mad
About You" once was, but it's better than "Mad
About You" is now.
"Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" doesn't
break the TV sitcom mold - except for its title. At
nine syllables, it might be the longest and most liter-
al yet for a sitcom.
But it's nice to watch a show that knows what it is
and doesn't try to be anything more.
"Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place will replace
"Ellen" for the next six weeks. ABC has placed the
Ellen DeGeneres sitcom on hiatus, as it reconsiders
renewing the show's contract.

why you shouldn't."
Pete, Berg's friend, roommate and opposite, tends
to overanalyze everything. He worries about his
future in architecture and his relationship with his
girlfriend, Melissa (Jennifer Westfeldt),
With their six-month anniversary approaching,
Pete makes an analogy between their relationship
and the recent news about China's lease on Hong
Kong running out. Because he has no intention of
marrying her. "'e are living in Hong Kong, waiting
for our lease to run out.
Melissa is not the "Girl"' in the title. though. That
honor belongs to the guys' former college house-
mate, Sharon (Traylor Howard) who lives upstairs.
Berg and Pete watch her big screen TV and mooch
food, money and car rides off of her because she has

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