The new sitcom "Sullivan & Son" (10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., TBS, TV-14) makes a noble effort to exhume the "Cheers" formula. Like that series and other sitcoms of yore, the premise and setup of "Sullivan" are so rapid-fire and obvious that they might be better explained in a theme song.
Steve (Steve Byrne), a rising Wall Street lawyer, takes his coldly ambitious girlfriend, Ashley (Brooke Lyons), home to Pittsburgh. There they attend a testimonial for his father, Jack (Dan Lauria), at Jack's bar, Sullivan & Son.
Ashley complains bitterly about the unhip tavern and its neighborhood's lack of chic stores, coffee shops or "people who matter." Steve, for his part, is immediately struck by a feeling of warmth and belonging. It's hardly giving away too much to say that Steve quickly decides to buy his dad's bar. So it's goodbye Ashley and hello Pittsburgh. That's too bad because Ashley's brittle urbanity offered ample opportunities for satire.
As on "Hot in Cleveland," Steve discovers that a real life can be had between New York and Los Angeles. His move brings him back to the embrace of the bar and its characters, including Carol (Christine Ebersole), the aging cougar; Hank (Brian Doyle-Murray), the politically incorrect barfly; and a gaggle of slacker dudes who'd rather drink than work.
Steve's most charged relationships are with his Irish-American dad and his Korean-immigrant mother, Ok Cha (Jodi Long). Ok Cha plays to stereotypes of Asian mothers as controlling, passive-aggressive and wily, penny-pinching negotiators.
Steve is being continually micromanaged and tortured by his mother, much to the delight of his long-oppressed sister, Susan (Vivian Bang). Meanwhile, he has his eyes on an old crush, Melanie (Valerie Azlynn), but doesn't seem to have much time for any other woman except Mom. If "Cheers" was a place where not-so-perfect adults congre-
gated, "Sullivan" is a place where you can't get away from your parents.
"Sullivan" will never be accused of being cutting edge or original. But the show can't decide if it wants to celebrate the family and the old neighborhood or send up these institutions as suffocating night-
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Kevin McDonough can be reached at email@example.com.