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As he proved with the brief, terrific South Central (1994), producer-creator Ralph Farquhar knows how to bring African-American life to television without disguising or cheapening it.
THE FIVE WORST 1 ARLI$$ (HBO) A lot of sitcoms contain no laughs, but arid Arli$$ isn’t just mirthless, it’s the year’s most pathetic rip-off.
5 BAYWATCH NIGHTS (syndicated) All-powerful producer and bathing-suit wearer David Hasselhoff has turned Nights into X-Files with Plan 9 From Outer Space F/X.
The results are dumb, sure, but also lacking in Baywatch’s blithe goofiness.
1 NYPD BLUE [PROGRAM of the YEAR] (ABC) TV’s most varied, humane, and exciting drama took more chances this year than a hit show needs to, and became a deeper, richer series for the effort.
Earlier this year, cocreator Steven Bochco told EW: ”This is now [cocreator-producer] David Milch’s show; if I disappeared tomorrow, the quality of that show would not suffer for a second.” And a key to Milch’s production work this season is his knowledge that once you’ve set up a character people care about, that creation can do questionable, even bad things, and the viewers won’t merely accept the behavior but feel that badness in their bones.
Dave Foley, as the radio station’s put-upon news director, is probably the subtlest actor in sitcoms, whereas Phil Hartman and Andy Dick thrive on reckless excess.
The Waltons’ Ralph Waite has been a marvelous skunk of a baddie, and Missy Crider’s work as a hapless murder defendant who also happened to be, as one character puts it, ”a major hottie,” gave One a fresh jolt of energy.But Matt Le Blanc’s Joey and Courteney Cox’s Monica have flourished anew, while Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel and Matthew Perry’s Chandler are steadily becoming comic creations of remarkable intricacy. Look at this show with an open mind and try not being beguiled.7 MURDER ONE (ABC) By the end of last season, Daniel Benzali had become known in my house as ”the boring bald guy.” But that debut run of One also pulled off the show’s then-central conceit — keeping you engaged in a single trial over 21 episodes.I’m thinking not only of the racism embedded in the soul of Andy Sipowicz (the earthshakingly good Dennis Franz) but of the increasing complexity of Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits).Whether Bobby was cruelly slapping around that squirrelly little creep Henry (Willie Garson), or finding himself unable to resist the little-boy selfishness that’s been mucking up his relationship with Diane (Kim Delaney), Smits somehow managed to make every flicker in Bobby’s mind register on his stoic face.