Television: Quirky Quixote

Midwestern exposure on the sweetly nutty Ed

As its makers cheerfully admit, Ed (NBC, Sundays, 8 p.m. E.T.) has the quirky mooseprints of Northern Exposure all over it. Hence the yuppie Green Acres premise: man (Tom Cavanagh) is cuckolded by wife, loses Manhattan law-firm job, buys bowling alley in Stuckeyville, Ohio, opens a legal practice amid the tenpins and romances his high school love (Julie Bowen). Hence too the oddball characters: the preening slacker selling Kobe beef behind the bowling-shoe counter, the doddering magician suing a rival for revealing his secrets.

So is Ed an Exposure ripoff? Try "improvement." Instead of precious magic realism and urban condescension,...

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