The Orange County TV Register
Week of August 22, 1993

     For Bronson Pinchot, his new series is
No Trouble at All

by Jay Bobbin
Special to the Register

One of the fall season's earliest premieres hinges on a reappearance, which is precisely what several of the show's stars are making.

Bronson Pinchot, Shanna Reed and Perry King have been in now-cancelled network series during the past year -- respectively, "Perfect Strangers," "Major Dad" and "Almost Home" -- but they all resurface in "The Trouble with Larry," a comedy debuting Wednesday on CBS.  Pinchot has the title role as a man who's been missing for 10 years and presumed dead . . . after being carried off by baboons while on honeymoon with his wife, Sally (Reed).  Since then, she has gotten remarried to the comparatively conservative Boyd (King), and she operates a Syracuse, N.Y., art gallery with her sister Gabriella (Courtney Cox).  However, her tranquil existence ends with the unexpected return of Larry, who's as unpredictable as ever . . . and not too likely to exit from her life again, especially after he learns that her daughter, Lindsey (Alex McKenna) also is his.

The series was created by executive producers Andrew Nicholls and Darrell Vickers, who were head writers of "The Tonight Show" during the last four years of Johnny Carson's era as host; with others, they're also producing CBS' upcoming Faye Dunaway - Robert Urich series "It Had to Be You."

At a recent press conference to introduce "Larry," Pinchot gave an energetic reading of the then-unfilmed pilot script, altering his voice and body language to reflect each of the characters.  As that suggested, the new show will give him more of the chances he had during the long run of "Perfect Strangers" to adopt a multitude of traits and identities, but he admits that "It's hard to find something" that will accommodate him that way.

"This is like a tour-de-force type thing," he acknowledges.  "I just sat around for a while (after 'Strangers,' which finished its ABC stint earlier this month, was axed), and then I got this script and thought it was hilarious.  It's hard to find a great piece of writing, and it's hard to find something fun."

Co-producer Nicholls says that for Pinchot's less-manic "Larry" co-stars, working on the series "does require the ability to sustain prolonged stage waits, while Bronson stuffs gherkins up people's noses and so forth."

King likens it to "a Marx Brothers movie where there's only one Marx brother and a lot of Margaret Dumonts (referring to the zany siblings' perennial screen foil).  You have to be kind of unaware that it's happening and enjoy it.  That's why I signed on.  I wanted to laugh for a few years."

King also claims that the scenes in which Pinchot cuts loose aren't as unrehearsed as they might seem.

"Years ago, I worked with (the late) Sandy Dennis.  People always thought she was just extemporaneous, but she actually worked out everything extremely carefully, so you knew exactly what was going on as the other performer.  Bronson works the same way, and part of his great talent is that he makes it look as if he's just making it up as he goes along."

Though "Larry" places her in a different situation than she had for several seasons on "Major Dad," Reed is embracing the change.  "I wanted to do something silly and a bit more offbeat, less traditional," she says.  "That's more the kind of comedy that I come from, since that's what I had done before in theater.  I like the exploration, and I like the fun . . . I like 'wacky.'

"I don't always want to be (portraying) the pillar of tradition and logic.  I like to try things, and if we succeed, that's fabulous.  If we fail, that's terrible, but I hope to be very involved here.  It's one big experiment for me, and so is Bronson.  He's very generous, and whatever he's thinking comes out of his mouth.  I appreciate that."

While Pinchot is an undeniable original in the world of TV humor, he cites a variety of influences.  "We did a 'Perfect Strangers' once," he recalls, "where we were supposed to do (a takeoff on) 'The Honeymooners.'  Everybody said, 'Okay, Bronson, you'll be Art Carney and that'll be fabulous.'  I said, 'I don't know his work at all.  Please give me seven tapes.'  By the time we were done, he was my idol.  When I was 7 years old, though, I worshipped Charlie Chaplin and Rudolf Nureyev.  I wouldn't say Nureyev was the funniest man who ever lived, but he did move more amazingly than anyone I've ever seen in my lifetime.  He could move one shoulder blade and tell a story.  I'm now in my 30's, and I'm still seeing (famous funny) people for the first time.  I've never really watched a Marx Brothers movie all the way through, and I couldn't do a single Three Stooges routine."

Nevertheless, whatever he decides to do on "The Trouble with Larry," Pinchot is likely to be given plenty of room for it.  As co-producer Vickers explains, the character "tries to help most of the time, but he's very, very bad at it.  That's generally what happens: Larry decides he's going to help the family, then all hell breaks loose."