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ABC’s new Friday comedy needs less ‘Hope,’ more ‘Faith’

Editor’s note: This article was modified Thursday, Sept. 25, 2003 to correct the names of the characters portrayed by Kelly Ripa and Faith Ford.

I have a confession to make. I am not enthralled with Kelly Ripa. I might be the only person in America who does not swoon to see that constantly smiling face. And, I am not impressed by Ripa’s latest endeavor, “Hope & Faith.”

I have read the reports that say Ripa has such great comic timing that she will be the next Lucille Ball. I just don’t see it. Her acting is forced and overly dramatic. There is nothing subtle about Ripa, including her cleavage-baring clothing.

I do like Faith Ford, Ripa’s more sedate co-star. Ford leaves behind the ditsy Corky Sherwood of “Murphy Brown” fame to portray a sensible, stay-at-home mom. Ford is the foundation of “Hope & Faith,” and the only reason to sit through the 30-minute sitcom.

Ripa portrays a character who is close to her heart — a has-been soap queen who squandered her money and runs to her sister for emotional and financial support. Faith is a drama queen, used to being the prettiest and most-loved woman in the room. She’s self-centered, irresponsible and has more in common with her 15-year-old niece than her adult sister.

Faith believes her life is at an end since she was fired from “The Sacred and the Sinful.”

“I gave ‘The Sacred and the Sinful’ the best years of my life,” moans Faith. “And how do they repay me• With a cheap, evil twin murder.”

Faith desperately tries to fit in with Hope’s family, which includes husband Charley (Ted McGinley), pre-teen Hayley (Macey Cruthird), 15-year-old Sydney (Nicole Paggi) and quirky Justin (Jansen Panettiere).

They are the stereotypical sitcom family — three kids with one being pretty, one being intelligent and the youngest being a bit weird.

The best part of casting for the show is pairing Ford and Ripa. They are the most realistic looking sisters that have ever been paired on television.

Faith quickly identifies with Sydney, who is trying to break away from her controlling, boring mother. Faith encourages Sydney to skip a class in school so they can go shopping for cool clothes. When they get caught, Faith uses her fame and womanly wiles to charm the principal.

“She had no right to use her celebrity to usurp my authority as Sydney’s mother,” says Hope.

With Faith in the house, Hope slowly loses the tight control over her family that she enjoys. The sisters are not together for two days before they are acting like kids, fighting over who is better and competing for attention.

Ripa has a long way to go in learning the subtleties of comedy. It takes more than a goofy face or pudding smeared on a chest to deserve genuine laughs.

“Hope & Faith” will probably find success on ABC’s TGIF lineup, especially since Ripa has so many devoted fans from her talk show “Regis and Kelly.”

Additional Information:

Details

‘Hope & Faith’
9 p.m. Friday, ABC


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