Fall TV Preview: Sitcom's forecast is sunny

Wednesday, October 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

By Manuel Mendoza / The Dallas Morning News

If Jim Gaffigan is half as successful as the role model for his character, Welcome to New York will be a hit.

The stand-up comic plays an Indiana TV weatherman who comes to Gotham for a job on a shark-laden local morning news show.

Welcome, co-starring acerbic Christine Baranski as the resident Great White, is produced by David Letterman's Worldwide Pants. He, too, was an Indiana weathercaster before being welcomed to New York.

Mr. Gaffigan (his character has the same name) immediately is out of place. He's honest and straightforward where everyone else either lies or ignores. Though hired by the appropriately named executive producer Marsha Bickner (Ms. Baranski) for his "Garrison Keillor-esque approach to weather," she immediately decides to change his rumpled look.

Meanwhile, the show-within-the-show's pompous, insecure co-anchor (Rocky Carroll) sees him as competition.

The pilot has fun with the way the arrogance of big-city folks can blind them to their own stupidity. Two set pieces bring the point home: a liquid lunch that gets out of hand, and a discussion about who gets to wear not the pants, but the glasses in this dysfunctional workplace family.

Despite or maybe because of the striking contrast between the urban and upper-crusty Ms. Baranski and the pale Midwesterner Mr. Gaffigan (the actor also is from Indiana), their banter gives off the kind of sparks that makes Welcome to New York one of the better new, old-style sitcoms.