Archive for Friday, January 16, 2004

Too bad this ‘Goodbye’ didn’t last

January 16, 2004

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Revivals are tricky, but those based on fairly recent material are the most difficult of all. Too remote to be contemporary, but too close to seem quaint, playwright Neil Simon's 1977 comedy "The Goodbye Girl" (7 p.m., TNT) evokes the social mores, theatrical trends and New York state of mind of a bygone era, when the city teetered on bankruptcy, the streets and buildings were dirty, muggings and graffiti were an accepted fact of life and the mayor's name was Abe Beame.

Set in modern Manhattan, this new "Girl" stars Patricia Heaton as former Broadway dancer Paula McFadden, whose rotten ex-boyfriend secretly sublet their shared Greenwich Village apartment to out-of-town actor Elliot Garfield (Jeff Daniels). Since both are desperate for a place to stay, they make an uneasy peace. After this cute and clever setup, "Girl" descends into Carter-era cliches.

  • Robert Downey Jr. is host of "Between the Lines" (9 p.m., A&E;), celebrating famous correspondences and the lost art of letter writing. Tonight's presentation, the first of four installments, focuses on famous letters sent to and from presidents and first ladies.
  • "Monk" (9 p.m., USA), starring Tony Shalhoub and Bitty Schram, returns for a third, seven-episode season about the phobic gumshoe. "Monk" repeats also will air on ABC beginning Saturday night.

Tonight's other highlights

  • A divinely inspired party on "Joan of Arcadia" (7 p.m., CBS).
  • Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): Barbara Walters interviews former NBA star Jayson Williams.

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