TV Guide, 1994:

by Jeff Jarvis

RoadHomeAdAThe Road Home
CBS, Saturdays, 9 P.M./ET

Family shows as warm as apple pie fresh from the oven may be a thing of the past, but that hasn't stopped networks--and a very loyal if not very large audience--from trying to resurrect them. Life Goes On, Against the Grain, I'll Fly Away, and Our Home all died of ratings malnutrition.  But even so, CBS is giving feel-good television one more shot in The Road Home.

Karen Allen stars as a mom who visits her idyllic Norman Rockwell hometown in seaside North Carolina with husband Terence Knox and their four kids. But she finds trouble; the family's shrimping business, run by her dad (Ed Flanders), is sinking. Her mom (Frances Sternhagen) is blacking out and won't see a doctor. Her brother (Alex McArthur) hauls hazardous waste, but pays for his sins when his engine dies, his boat catches fire, and he's hauled off to jail. Then Allen's kids get in trouble of a lighter sort; her effervescently pubescent daughter, usually seen mooning over the local hunk, decides to spike a cake with laxatives--why, I have no idea; it seems the writers just came up short on plot.

But here, plots don't matter much. Feelings do. As neighbors shout to their kids, Allen sits on her porch and sighs, "People here have music in the soul." The woman practically hyperventilates sighing. As her kids play, she does it again; "Since we arrived, there hasn't been a mention of TV or video games or cartoons."

Like its fellow feel-good series, The Road Home dreams that there is still one American town where laxatives are the drugs kids play with, where the air carries happy family noise instead of pollution, where things can be hard but you get through them because, as Allen tells her son; "A family's suppose to stand together." I'd love to live in that town; forward my mail to Brigadoon.  But I fear it exists only in TV-land.

Yet, even in TV-land, there's something wrong with these perfect burgs; nothing much happens in them. Unless you're making Seinfeld, you can't make a show about nothing; you have to fill a time slot with something. So Home fills it with breathy speeches on the meaning of life; "Age brings expection. Sometimes I think that's too bad, because how old would we be if we didn't know our age?" Huh?

If you liked the cozy shows listed in the first paragraph, then try Home. You may like it, for its cast is as warm as its town. But personally, I snoozed through those comfy shows--no matter how ostentatiously they wore the cloak of Quality TV and tried to make me feel like a meanie for not watching--just as I snoozed through The Road Home.

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