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TV Series Review

ABC has spent a lot of time and money promoting its "family-friendly" Happy Hour, trying to lure gun-shy viewers back to the first hour of prime time. But the pickings have been slim for discerning audiences. Shows such as 8 Simple Rules and My Wife and Kids haven’t lived up to their benevolent promises. So I was eager to see how George Lopez would stack up.

The fictional Lopez family is led by stand-up comic George Lopez, who plays a longtime factory lineman finally promoted to manager. He’s encircled by his loving wife, Angie (Constance Marie), two agreeable children, Carmen and Max, and his tart mother, Benny (Belita Moreno). George Lopez gives in to a few too many Latino stereotypes (the overused "Low Rider" shows up as theme music), but like the Cosbys before them, the Lopez clan spend lots of time making memories together. Benny is rude and callous now and then, but she’s basically a lovable crab. Although their lovey-dovey comments can stray into sexual innuendo, George and Angie have an affectionate relationship. And everyone dotes on the children.

Family arguments avoid the blazing disrespect so prevalent on TV. Even Carmen, the resident teenager, resists being insolent when exasperated by her parents. Meanwhile, George and Angie help Max accept the fact that he has dyslexia, and that he needs special classes to succeed later in life. Carmen learns that loyalty is her number-one priority when the "cool kids" make fun of her friend. And George refuses to take a prestigious job at another company when he discovers it’s merely to fill a minority quota.

Other moments aren’t as sweet or instructive. The series gives a nod to MTV (Carmen watches the noxious channel non-stop when she’s depressed). Mild profanity crops up. Also, crafty wordplay hints at risqué topics such as masturbation and homosexuality. The moral thermostat in George Lopez’ California home creates a more pleasant climate than viewers will find visiting most of his prime-time neighbors. But it could be cozier.

Episodes Reviewed: Oct. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, Nov. 6, 2002

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Steven Isaac

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