Shaky Ground is a teenager that helps her detective father solve cases, while attending highschool. For the past two years this show has had 2 big mysteries per season - each being solved by the end of the season. This is not like most shows that will string you along for years. On top of this we normally also get a "Mystery of the Week" (MOTW), that gets sloved in that same episode. Each of these MOTW are compelling in their own right.
Oy, where to begin? Well, obviously FOX had no faith in the show to begin with, as it aired in the 6PM Sunday "Death slot", where summer premieres and bad replacement shows are laid to rest, with apologies to True Colors (a good concept not executed well, also on FOX, ironically), as well as the fading King of the Hill (FOX again--I detect a pattern here).
The writing was tepid, the children annoying, the situations both implausible and not funny, so therefore in many ways it was the typical Bad Sitcom. Anything with Jennifer Love Hewitt gets a point off from me (her facial expressions span the range of mild constipation to dull surprise, occasionally lurching into the Richard Pryor exaggerated-fear look); her "Child Actor" period was about as distinguished as her adulthood acting has been. I guess I broke any sarcasm detectors with that last line. Matt Frewer, fresh off a smattering of memorable guest spots on shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation (and four years removed from his career highlight in Max Headroom), seemed to lack the charisma to tackle a lead role in a full-on comedy, and playing a character that was hated by the town they lived in and even mostly hated by his own family became uncomfortable to watch rather quickly.
The one saving grace was a rather good theme song sung by the superb Phoebe Snow ("I've been standing on shaky ground / ever since you put me down"), done with a lightweight Stax Records-like arrangement. This was a new version recorded just for the show; it was originally a big hit for the Temptations in 1975 and Snow recorded a charting verion of her own in 1977 (off her gold album It Looks Like Snow). Being a child of two musicians, legitimately good music rarely escapes my notice. But you know you're in for a difficult half-hour when the high point of a program has come and gone before the clock reads one past the hour.
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