The Nanny

‘The Nanny’ is bland and predictable: 1993 review

Tonight at 8:30, CBS presents Fran Drescher in a new sitcom called “The Nanny.” However, I’m not sure any more whether a new series on CBS even qualifies as newsworthy.

Exactly one week ago tonight, CBS premiered a new action series called “South of Sunset.”

It starred Glenn Frey of the Eagles, and the producers were toiling on the inaugural episode so close to air time that critics never got a chance to review it.

Apparently, most viewers didn’t see it, either, because after the abysmally low ratings for that one telecast, CBS canceled the show and let “Sunset” sink below the prime-time horizon.

New York Daily News review of "The Nanny" in 1993.
New York Daily News review of “The Nanny” in 1993. (New York Daily News)

In a way, I’m not complaining. If the networks want to make decisions this quickly, and both premiere and cancel new series before I get a chance to review them, it makes my job a little easier. But when I have a tape in advance, especially from CBS, it makes me move that much faster – which is why I’m not wasting any time reviewing “The Nanny.”

The way things are going, it may be here and gone in a “Nanny”-o-second.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Fran Dreshcer. She’s beautiful, witty, has a good sense of comic timing, and a laugh that’s best described as singular.

She was fun to watch on the sitcom “Princesses” and in “This Is Spinal Tap,” and she’s always fun to listen to. If you don’t recognize her from her credits, you will from her Queens-for-a-day Flushing accent.

Fran and Maxwell (Fran Drescher and Charles Shaughnessy) share their immense joy and love as they welcome their twins into the world.
Fran and Maxwell (Fran Drescher and Charles Shaughnessy) share their immense joy and love as they welcome their twins into the world. (SPIKE NANNARELLO/CBS)

The plot of “The Nanny” is simple: “The Sound of Music” without music. She ends up working for a rich widower with three kids, and basically charms them all. Before the first episode’s over, she’s already performed a beauty makeover on the older daughter and developed a playfully antagonistic relationship with Niles the butler, portrayed by Daniel Davis.

Unlike her experience on “Princesses,” though, this time Drescher can’t claim to be misused by the producers. She and her husband, Peter Marc Jacobson, are the producers, and they developed “The Nanny” especially for her.

They’ve done a few things right: She deserves to have a show revolve around her, she gets the most laughs imaginable out of almost every line, and she has the brightest and wildest sitcom wardrobe since Ann Magnuson in “Anything But Love.”

Also, the actors portraying the widower (Charles Shaughnessy), his children (Nicholle Tom, Benjamin Salisbury and Madeline Zima) and his possible romantic interest (Lauren Lane) all make decent, though unexceptional, first impressions.

But the pilot script is way too bland and predictable, and only Davis, as the butler, really clicks with Drescher in the first episode. Things may improve in the second installment – but the way CBS is canceling new shows this season, there may not be a second installment.

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