and Mets. Since I love the Cubs andndetest the Mets, I feel a strong obligationnto watch this game. During ancommercial I switch channels andncatch five minutes of something callednGrowing Pains. A kid is learning anlesson about life from his father. Ornperhaps the father is learning a lessonnabout life from his kid. Or perhapsnboth. The show is aptly titled. As Inwatch it, my pain grows. Back to thenball game. Cubbies lose.nWEDNESDAY—On track now. Inwatch Highway to Heaven. MichaelnLandon plays an angel who takes ordersndirectly from “the Boss.” Thenepisode begins with a surreal, out-ofnowherendiscussion between the angelnand his sidekick about the need fornresponsible citizens to “stop worryingnabout the bomb” and instead focusntheir attention on the chemical contentnof their water supplies. “If theyndon’t,” warns the angel, “there won’tnbe anyone to drop the bomb on.” Innthe meantime, a little girl has lost herndog, Jake. She prays for the dog’snreturn, but fears God does not hearnher. In the midst of her crisis, thenchild’s parents tell her that she soonnwill have a baby brother via surrogatenmotherhood, a process her mother explainsnby saying, “We’ve taken one ofnDad’s little fishies and put it withnsomeone else’s egg.” From there wenmove to the woods, where angel Landonnfinds the lost dog and saves it fromna pack of wolves by turning himselfninto a lion. (I’m not making this up.)nHe deposits the dog with a big-heartednkennel owner named Lil, who regularlyntakes her pooches to visit old people’snhomes and orphanages, Lil’s philosophynbeing that “old folks arennothing but kids with wrinkles.” Whatneventually happens to Jake the dog, Lilnthe dog-lover, and Dad’s little fishes Indo not know, because at this point Inturn off the set. Apparently Highwaynto Heaven is what passes for “wholesomenfamily entertainment” on television.nNo sex, no violence — just doggies,nangels, and lots of talk aboutn”love.” Who can object? For myself, Inthink I’d rather have the kids watchingnBugs Bunny cartoons or staring at thenwall.nI return for A Year in the Life, anone-hour drama described by TVnGuide as “richly textured.” Watchingnthis show, I realize why I so enjoynsports on television. They offer everythingnA Year in the Life lacks: realnreality, along with tension, surprise,neffortless grace, and occasional humor;nat the same time, sports completelynlack what this show is full of: relevancento “life.” The story: A widower innSeattle has several grown children. Asnthe program opens, his married daughternand her husband are in conflict overnthe choice of a daytime babysitter forntheir infant daughter. They finally settlenuneasily but hopefully on a womannfrom El Salvador who does not speaknEnglish. Another of the widower’sndaughters is divorcing her second husband.nOn the day her divorce becomesnfinal, she accepts a date with a coworker,nwhich her kids think is “cool.”nAs she leaves the house to meet herndate, her teenage son advises her withna coy smile that “it’s okay to say no.”nHer date stands her up. She goes to anMarx Brothers movie and cries. Thennshe goes to the apartment of her nownex-husband, has sex with him, andndiscovers (this must be the “richlyntextured” part) that tonight, finally,nthey can “talk.” That’s it. The end.nShow’s over. I think the idea here is tondispense with the vehicle of plot, takenan episodic approach, and thus create anmore realistic portrait of “modern familynlife.” Having suffered through plotngalore in Highway to Heaven, I hate toncomplain. But this program is pretentious,nand these characters are boring. Indo not want to spend a year in theirnlife.nNext comes St. Elsewhere, a medicalnseries set in a hospital. Because Inalways end up checking myself fornsymptoms, I do not watch medicalnprograms of any kind, ever.nTHURSDAY —Comedy night.nWith the aid of a VCR, I am able tonwatch four, count ’em, laugh riots.nFirst, Sledge Hammer! a sort of comicnbook for adults. Sledge is a “bloodthirstynbut trustworthy” police inspectornwho says things like, “The copsnwho can’t deal with the violence crack;nthe ones who can, teach.” An ace cop.nSledge is also a goofball. While he isnwell aware that he’s an ace, the goofballnpart eludes him. Because the programnaspires to nothing beyond intentionalncaricature and a few giggles, it is,ncomparatively speaking, refreshing. Inwouldn’t skip a showing of All AboutnEve to watch Sledge Hammer! but Innndon’t hate it.nNext, The Cosby Show. Bill Cosbynsays funny things, but I don’t enjoynlaughing at him because he is toonaware of his own comic charm for myntaste. As for his series, it raises thenquestion, “Is it me or is it them?” Itnmust be me, because The Cosby Shownis the hit of the decade, a program allnAmerica adores. It’s a cute show. It’s annice show. It’s also a plastic show thatnis passing itself off as something better.nI don’t like it much. So sue me.nIn The Charmings, a fairy-talenprince and princess have been transportednto modern times. The mothernof the princess is a spell-casting witchnwho talks to a black man in a magicnmirror. Together they make jokesnabout premenstrual syndrome.nLast, a Bob Hope comedy special, anRockford InstitutenAfirst-of-its-kind directory of religiousnorganizations, people, and publicationsnengaged in public affairs. More than 160nlistings with backgrounds and budgets.nFormatted for quick reference for thosenwho need the facts fast. ONLY $6.95!nMail the coupon below for your copyn• Please! Rush me. . copy(ies) ofnthe new directory Religion & PublicnAffairs at $6.95 apiece.nn Bill me. n My check is enclosed.nMail to: The Rockford Instituten934 N. Main St.ny Rockford, IL 61103nMARCH 1988 / 45n