As long as "Ed" stays away from treacle and capitalizes on its quirkiness, NBC just may have a hit. 

Charm to Spare

The premise is kind of silly and the plots are just about what you'd expect on one of the Major Networks on Sunday evening at 8, but somehow the whole is greater than its parts: "Ed" is just ... well ... sorta likeable.

The premise: A big-city lawyer gets fired, finds his wife in bed with the mailman and decides to give it all up and move back to his hometown, Stuckeyville, Ohio.

The plot so far: Big-city lawyer runs into the most beautiful girl he went to high school with, and she's still beautiful. Now she's also kind and earnest and single and teaches at the high school they went to. And she has a boyfriend — an English teacher who was teaching there when they were in school. But beautiful girl kisses big-city lawyer, so he buys the town's bowling alley.

In succeeding episodes, Ed has chatted up and tried to set a date with the beautiful girl — her name is Carol Vessey — without a lot of success. She's still hung up on the English teacher, but the viewer can sense that Ed's got a chance. Meantime, Ed has opened up a law office inside the bowling alley and is taking cases, sometimes winning.

"Ed" is a fairly charming romantic comedy, and only occasionally does it turn into treacle.

Tom Cavanagh, whom we last saw on "Providence," is Ed, and Julie Bowen, who last caught our eye on "ER," is Carol. They're two of the best things about "Ed."

If you're a "Providence" fan, you'll remember Cavanagh for his recurring role as "dog boy," Doug Boyce. The dog boy was a vulnerable young man from Newfoundland who thought he was a dog until he discovered his inner man.

Cavanagh has had some kind of life. He was born in Ottawa, but when he was 6 his parents moved the family to Ghana, where his father got a job training teachers and his mother taught in the local village. At Queens University in Ontario, Cavanagh played varsity basketball and graduated with three degrees — in English, biology and education. So he turned to acting. His first big break was starring with John Cullum in the Broadway revival of "Shenandoah."

Bowen is a Baltimore girl who got bit by the acting bug as a kid. At Brown University, she starred in "Guys and Dolls" and "Stage Door" and then got a degree in Italian Renaissance studies. While she was still in school, she did some independent film work, did some commercials and then got a recurring role on a daytime drama. Later she moved to Hollywood, and we saw her as Noah Wyle's girlfriend for nine episodes of "ER."

"Ed" also has a strong supporting cast, with Josh Randall as Ed's best friend and Jana Marie Hupp as the best friend's wife.

"Ed" is offbeat and original — with just enough "Northern Exposure" quirkiness to spice the broth. Eight o'clock on Sunday nights is a tough neighborhood. But if "Ed" will resolve to stay away from treacle, NBC may have something here with legs.


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