"The Two of Us" hops right off the assembly line and into your heart, or close enough, anyway. This new CBS comedy, beginning a trial run at 8:30 tonight on Channel 9, is such a formula undertaking that it looks like a mock sitcom from a satire about network television. And yet the players are personable enough and the writing bright enough to make it click and bubble efficiently.
Peter Cook, once partnered with fellow Briton Dudley Moore, stoops to the role of a snooty English butler who reluctantly takes a job with a likably ditzy New York TV personality played with high-gloss brass by Mimi Kennedy. Naturally she's divorced and has an adorable teen-age daughter -- winsome Dana Hall, the 16-year-old who earlier this season starred in the TV movie "Fallen Angel," a footnote in her resume perhaps better forgotten.
They've thrown everything but the requisite big fluffy dog into "Two of Us," but the more virulent strains of the virus Cuteus Nauseous are kept at bay, probably because Charlie Hauck -- who created the show and wrote and produced the pilot -- spent enough time in Norman Lear's shop to learn the trick of balancing the tart and the sweet in recipe comedies like this.
Cook and Kennedy exchange sassy cracks from their first meeting, and they do it in a fresh and agreeable way. She recalls of her previous life as a TV host in Ohio, "I had my own show, 'Wake Up, Cleveland,'" to which he responds with very dry drollery, "I've been to Cleveland, madame, and it didn't work." Cook keeps his dignity even in the mundane surroundings of sitcommery; his Brentwood (playfully named after a chic L.A. 'burb) fortunately owes more to Clifton Webb as haughty Mr. Belvedere than to Sebastian Cabot as groveling Mr. French.
Oliver Clark, who costarred in the 1977 CBS comedy flop "We've Got Each Other," plays a wacky colleague of Kennedy's; he looks like a great big human Fonzie bear, and he is roly-poly enough to round out a cast that seems cannily ideal. There are obvious opportunities for romantic tension between Cook and Kennedy and maybe even for some mild topical comedy in the situation -- which, like the comedy, appears to be in emphatically good hands.