Anything But Love: Volume One

Anything But Love: Volume One

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Anything But Love: Volume One

The mid-to-late-'90s were a golden age for TV in general and the sitcom in particular, made all the more special because it came after one of the medium's most fallow periods, when only the occasional St. Elsewhere or Cheers offered relief from an unending tide of Family Matters. One of those rare signs of life was Anything But Love, a smart, genteel romantic comedy that from 1989 to 1992 gave Richard Lewis and Jamie Lee Curtis a forum for their curiously complementary talents. It took Lewis' cuddly version of neurotic kvetching and Curtis' engaging take on the literate, lonely single gal to break a good show out of the kitsch-com box.

Lewis plays a tough, respected investigative reporter at a Chicago-based magazine, and Curtis is one of his biggest fans, pursuing her own dream of becoming a writer. During the 28 episodes—two seasons' worth—on the Anything But Love: Volume One DVD set, the two stars stay in the flirty best-friends stage, though routinely, each episode's highlight is the moment when the two of them are alone, ribbing each other with more genuine affection than just about any two TV characters have ever shown each other. Curtis, fresh from A Fish Called Wanda, was at the peak of her comic confidence, and Lewis' long-haired depressive act was still a relative novelty. Together, they treated their five minutes or so of alone time as its own mini-show.

Not that the real show around them is all that bad. The writers' concept of big-time journalism is simplistic, boiling everything down to "saving the world" versus "10 hottest bods," and the scripts lean heavily on sappy applause lines. But the cultural references are generally savvy, and Ann Magnuson's performance as the magazine's brittle-but-brilliant editor is rarely predictable. Still, it's clear now that Lewis and Curtis were straining against late-'80s sitcom strictures, trying to turn their show into a Mad About You or Friends just a few years too early.

Key features: A cutesy commentary track by Curtis and Lewis on the pilot, and a pair of sweetly reflective featurettes.