Worst Week



Airdate: 9:30-10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22 (CBS)

I've watched "Worst Week" three times, and I've laughed through each viewing. That makes me nervous. Can any show that cleverly plotted, written, directed and performed -- and especially one adapted from the Brits -- sustain that high a level of humor week after week?

"Worst Week" stars relatively unknown Kyle Bornheimer as good-guy everyman Sam. In the premiere, his girlfriend, Melanie (Erinn Hayes), is six weeks' pregnant. They plan to announce her pregnancy and their engagement during an overnight visit to her loving but oh-so-traditional parents that very night.

So what could go wrong? How about everything? In this hilarious comedy of odd coincidences, bad timing, comic misunderstandings and supremely physical comedy, not a minute goes by without something dreadfully funny befalling Sam, Melanie or her parents.

"Worst Week" is unlike anything on TV in that it emphasizes the actions of its characters more than their dialogue or quirky traits (of which there are few). The four characters at the heart of the show are, by and large, perfectly normal. Melanie's father, Dick (Kurtwood Smith), is a judge with an air of decorum and a skeptical outlook. Her mother, Angela (Nancy Lenehan), is a sweet and nurturing homebody.

As an ensemble, the performances are impeccable. Smith and Lenehan, friends in real life, play off each other as if they really have been married for years. Bornheimer has a charming, endearing quality that makes it apparent that all his missteps come from the heart. Hayes' Melanie is convincing even when she unfailingly stands behind Sam after each disaster.

This is one of the rare situation comedies that relies almost entirely on situations, each of which is more bizarre than the next and at the same time perfectly plausible.

It's almost too good. And the fact that CBS didn't sent out subsequent episodes and that, by exec producer Matt Tarses' own admission, 90% of the gags were lifted from the British series, does little to bolster confidence that this level of hilarity can be achieved over the course of a full season.

But if it can, CBS will have accomplished what no network has done for years: assemble a two-hour comedy block without a single weak link.

Production: Universal Media Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television.
Cast: Kyle Bornheimer, Erinn Hayes, Kurtwood Smith, Nancy Lenehan, Jay Malone, Tamara Mello, Aziz Ansari, Steve Rankin, Toshi Toda. Writer/developed for American television by: Matt Tarses.
Executive producers: Matt Tarses, Jimmy Mulville.
Co-executive producer/director: Adam Bernstein.
Director of photography: Michael Trim.
Production designer: Cynthia Charette.
Editor: Briana London.
Music: David Schwartz.
Set decorator: Bob Kensinger.
Casting: Amy Britt, Anya Colloff, Michael Nicolo.