Good lord. Is this the stuff that keeps Americans magnetized to their television sets night after night?
A half-hour show billed as a Comedy Special and titled "Second Time Around" airs tonight at 10:30 over ABC. It is the story of two marriage counselors, formerly married to each other and now separated, who are trying to get together again. They have a 13-year-old son.
They also have a laff-track which produces exactly as much laughter as the engineers desire: a 2-second burst, a 4-second guffaw, a snicker in unison. There are no little whoops or chuckles trailing off at the end.
The evening's biggest boffola is when the psychiatrist father -- easily the world's most unexamined psychiatrist -- starts confiding in his son and subsides onto the couch while the son sits up in the wingchair making doctorly comments.
The plot: In honor of their reconciliation, the husband has taken it upon himself to enroll the son in a private school. The wife is of course going to have to chauffeur the kid across town every day. The dialogue shuffles wearily along: He'll split the driving, but he wants her to make his breakfast because he can't cook.
Evidently we are supposed to find it both understandable and amusing that a man can't cook his own breakfast. After five minutes with this pathetic wimp, the commercials are a breath of fresh air.
Ed Winter drew the short straw to get this luckless role. As the wife, Mariette Hartley -- the Helen Hayes of the Polaroid ads -- has slightly better chances, for she seems to win their imbecile debates. In payment, however, she has to come on as a partime ticklebrain like Binnie Barnes.
Can ABC be seriously considering this high-school play as a pilot? They're not admitting it. That's something, anyway.