It’s not often that Rhea Perlman serves as the high point in my night, but dammit, even our most frizzy-haired thespians deserve a moment in the TVgasm spotlight. The actress best known for her tenure as Carla Maria Victoria Angelina Teresa Apollonia Lozupone Tortelli LeBec on Cheers popped up on UPN’s Kevin Hill this week, and I have to admit, the Diggs-Perlman chemistry was electric. No, not romantic chemistry. That’s gross. Comedic chemistry. Rhea was surprisingly great as the straight woman to Taye’s irresponsible bachelor father. She helped make this the best episode of an already solid freshman season. It was like Carla Lite, and I want more of it.As usual, the episode centered around two stories – Kevin’s personal dramas and a conveniently appropriate lawsuit to reflect them. Oh, and of course, Kevin grew as a person and as a father. Awww. In this week’s life lesson, a tough-as-nails (assuming those nails had a perm) social worker in the form of Rhea Perlman plagued Kevin in an attempt to discern whether or not he’s a fit father. Based on his inability to do simple things like take the baby to the doctor, I would say no. But based on that smile, man, Taye can do anything!
As the social worker grilled all of Kevin’s friends and associates, our intrepid lawyer set to work defending a wealthy trust fund baby who happened to be squandering all her money on bad investments… Bad investments imparted to her from her dead father… as told through a psychic. Sounds like a case for the well groomed lawyers at Grey & Associates! With designer suits firmly in place, Kevin and Nicolette went off to court where they engaged in the world’s shortest cross-examining techniques. Their lines of questioning sounded something like this: “Is it true that your daughter is a full fledged adult?” Mother: “Yes.” Kevin: “No futher questions.” (Reaction shots of mother looking confused, Nicolette looking pleasantly surprised, and the opposing lawyer looking peeved).
Meanwhile, outside the courtroom, Kevin was hard-pressed to find a pediatrician for his kid. He ultimately wound up at the office of his old flame, a children’s doctor who was still smarting from their harsh breakup. When she told him that he was a child, Kevin went into a tailspin of self-reflection that apparently included donning an urban spacesuit and talking to his buddy, Dame. Eventually, Kevin returned to the bitter doctor and said that he just wanted to apologize for treating her so badly and he’ll leave her alone now. Of course, this is Kevin Hill we’re talking about here, so of course the doctor’s anger melted away as she sweetly offered to give little Sarah a physical. One of these days Kevin is going to face a lesbian, and it’s not going to be so easy to pull of these shenanigans.
Speaking of homosexuality, I’m making a plea to see more of Kevin’s nanny, George. At first I thought he’d be more of a token gay character with little else to offer beyond Just Jack snappiness, but like many other elements of this show, there’s actually a lot more there. Not that I don’t appreciate his clever lines. The best line of this week’s show occurred when Kevin doubted George’s fashion tastes for a moment and the nanny simply replied with “Uh, gay!” (Runner up: when Kevin visited a fortune teller and said “Nice psychic-ing.”)
Anyway, through all this chaos with Rhea Perlman and the trust fund baby and Michael Michelle wandering around as the grand Madame of the lawfirm, Kevin learned the valuable lesson that a father has to always provide a sense of security and love for his daughter, even when he’s dead. In true form, an eloquent courtroom speech was had, Kevin won the case, and Nicolette was once again impressed. Fortunately for Kevin, Rhea Perlman just happened to sit in on the proceedings and darnit if his speech didn’t just soften her heart. She deemed him to be a wonderful father and even gave him a picture frame to store photos of Sarah.
Okay, I might sound like I’m bashing the corniness or the predictability of this show, but in all fairness, Kevin Hill manages to handle all these plot devices with hardly an ounce of saccharine. Better yet, while the large strokes tend to be predictable (of course he’ll get off the hook with Rhea Perlman, of course he’ll win his court case and pull a life lesson from it), the actual plot and characters never move the way you expect it. People who are skipping Kevin Hill for the more heavy handed West Wing (or dare I say, Bachelor) are missing out on a real gem of a show. My only request: bring back Rhea.