When a ringing alarm clock elicits a torrent of laughter, you know you're in the pits of Sitcom City, that in fact you are "Too Close for Comfort" to the bottom of the barrel. That is precisely where one finds the no-account ABC haw-haw "Too Close for Comfort" premiering tonight at 9:30 on Channel 7 ("Taxis" is moving to Wednesdays).
Ted Knight attempts an unseemly comeback as a comic-strip artist ("The Cosmic Cow") who with his wife (Nancy Dussault) also owns a small San Francisco apartment building. He is obsessed with the possibility that his two shapely young daughters (Deborah van Valkenburg and Lydia Cornell) will surrender their virtues to men, a favorite obsession of moron dads in bozo comedies like this.
When the downstairs apartment becomes vacant after the death of a transvestite (big yocks for that revelation), the girls lobby their parents to let them move in there on their own. Immediately they have a wild party and their dad's dander rises accordingly.
Among writer Arne Sultan's stabs at hilarity are Knight's declaration, "I'm 51; I have parts you can't get any more," and one daughter's giggly "He was a transvestite -- how exciting!" Prospective tenants for the empty apartment include a kinky masseuse who says "I give relief. I'm very good," and a kinky male artist who says "I expect to be hung soon."
In fact, there is nothing in the half hour that could be said to appeal to a mentality superior to, or a view of sexuality more sophisticated than, those of a baggypants burlesque clown. The difference is, a lot of those baggypants burlesque clowns were funny.