When Irving Berlin wrote "Everybody's Doing It," he didn't mean IT. He meant the turkey trot. Times have changed with something of a vengenace. When the new fall breed of sexy network comedies -- very aptly dubbed "smutcoms" by Time magazine -- talk about "doing it," no trotting is involved.
On the premiere of ABC's "It's a Living," at 9:30 tonight on Channel 7, there is much talk of the illustrious It. The comedy adventures of five struggling waitresses have appealing possibilities -- a female "Taxi" set in the same sort of limbo -- but too much time is spent on feckless innuendo.
It seems the least worldly member of the quintet, Wendy Schaal as Vicki, is still (gasp) a virgin, and on tonight's premiere this causes no end of incredulity among the most worldly, or at least best-traveled, member, Ann Jillian as Cassie. She can't believe Vicki hasn't gone all the way with a guy. "Who are you," she asks, "Heidi?"
When it transpires that Vicki has a steady boyfriend she's been seeking for three weeks but has yet to pillow with, Cassie asks, "You been holding out for three weeks? Who is this guy -- St. Francis?" When Vicki returns from the weekend with her boyfriend, she is promptly asked, "Well, how was it?" "What?" "IT!"
Oh, yeah. It.
This fanatical it-ness couldn't really be called obscene, but it's so tiresomely single-minded. The program is saved from worthlessness, however, by its cast, and Jillian is the one undisputed find in the group. Her lines get a tart, sassy crackle that dresses them up considerably; she doesn't seem to have been stamped out of the sex-kitten cookie-cutter.
Her character would have no dimension if not for the fresh, beguiling spin she puts on the ball, though the worst actress in the world would deserve better dialogue than, "Even when IT's bad, it's good."
Oh, yeah. It.
Other waitresses are played by Susan Sullivan as a working mother, Barrie Youngfellow and Gail Edwards. Marian Mercer, rescued here from detergent commercials, is too good for the tedious role of the dimwitted boss but, like others in the cast, she has given writer Stu Silver an assist he scarcely deserves.
Paul Kreppel's portrayal of the dreadful singing pianist in the restaurant owes too much to a similar character deftly created and played by bill Murray on "Saturday Night Live." The endless flow of sex gags ("Vickie lost her 'Lorenzo'" being approximately the nadir) is crudely halted for the obligatory sensitive hug scene, replete with tinkly music sneaked in by director John Tracy.
That's not surprising considering "It's a Living" is from Witt-Thomas, a.k.a Witless-Tasteless, Productions. Like many working in television, these are people who specialize in having no shame.