Charlie Hoover (“Two for the Road”)

Season 1, Episode 3
Date of airing: November 23, 1991 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 6.9 million viewers, 4.4/8 in Households

My body didn’t know if it was supposed to get entertained or fall asleep, as CHARLIE HOOVER becomes more of a schizophrenic show than I would have imagined. There are some great ideas behind the episode storylines (okay, the suicide from the previous episode is still utter bullshit), but if this show only would have had writers to write funny scenes, then maybe CHARLIE HOOVER would have been an endurable show. But instead it’s a male-driven show that wants to make fun of women through hypocrisy, and it has characters that don’t belong in a show like this. Hugh definitely deserves to be in a show like this, since it’s a crazy and annoying show and Hugh is a freaking crazy and annoying character, but Charlie is too nice to be part of a typical early-1990s FOX sitcom, his wife Helen is way too much of a loving and supporting wife to be her own character in a broadcast television sitcom, and the kids barely have screentime, which makes me wonder if they actually are regular characters on this show. I think I just figured out another reason CHARLIE HOOVER did not make it past the seventh episode: It focused too much on a character that should have been part of a comedy drama premise. If Hugh is the only character here who makes actual funny jokes (okay, Helen had a zinger for her son that was the highlight of the episode, but more to that in a minute), but he is actually the imaginary character of the bunch, then you definitely have a problem here.

Her face says that he just had a great idea to make her life easier.

The good idea of this episode was the question whether or not Helen was pregnant, and if Charlie was about to become a father for the third time, experiencing the joy of parenthood while in his forties. I did like the premise of a married couple in their forties, with two kids already, talking to each other about having another child or not, and what the decision to cut off their reproductive supply could mean to them as a person in the long run. Granted, only Charlie was facing the fear of getting his tubes tied (apparently Helen did not allow herself to do the same, or at least talk about it?), but he was reminiscing about a life yet to come for him, and that showed the writers were interested in at least a little bit of character drama. If you decide to get a vasectomy, does the idea of never having any (more) kids bother you into depression or are you going to be happy about it, feeling free to never having to deal with teething, crying and screaming, and changing diapers ever again? It’s generally an interesting story, but the episode failed in making a bigger deal out of it for Helen, who just needed to show up to the clinic to tell Charlie that she was unhappy with the decision they made together. Then again, the ending of the story created momentum for Charlie and Helen to expand their family, and that could have quite been the story for a FOX sitcom in the early 1990s.

Imitating your daughter while waiting on the vasectomy.

But yeah, the comedy level of this show is atrocious. Like I said, I was almost falling asleep, but Helen’s zinger about duct-taping her son when he was screaming and crying as a baby had me chuckling for a portion of a second. Other than that, I have to say that Tim Matheson was completely and hilariously miscast for this show. A character like the one he plays here could have been okay for a sitcom or a general comedy television show, but as the lead he is a failure. It’s his way of being too charming and nice for a FOX television sitcom, and it’s his approach on life which he takes with caution that make Charlie Hoover a boring character. CHARLIE HOOVER is a show that wanted to define itself via the premise of the personification of Charlie’s inner voice. Turns out that’s not enough to justify the existence of a sitcom.

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