by Richard Rosenstock
Flying Blind is remembered, if at all, for the star turn by Tea Leoni. Though she had had a role in A League of Their Own, this put her on the map.
Technically, she wasn't the star. Flying Blind was about Neil Barash (Corey Parker), a somewhat repressed young man in a dull job who meets up with Alicia (Leoni). She has to pretend she's dating someone to keep away an old boyfriend, and chooses Neil, who's sitting alone in a restaurant.
Alicia is smart, sexy, and uninhibited -- Neil's complete opposite. Of course, in TV and romantic comedies, opposites attract. The two become a couple, but he's flying blind -- Alicia is spontaneous and moves in circles Neil never knew about.
Leoni is spectacular. She's the type of woman most nerds dream of -- and know they're never going to get. She's had many relationships, often with rich handsome men, and Neil is never sure where they stand, and always walking on eggshells, afraid that he can't measure up to her past and present.
Parker is good as the slightly neurotic lead character. Michael Tucci plays Neil's father, who also finds it hard to accept the relationship. Marcus Giamatti is especially funny as Ted Sharperson (the name's ironic), Neil's go-getting co-worker.
There were a few nice guest turns, most notably Peter Boyle as Alicia's CIA agent father, whose life makes her whirlwind look sedate, Thomas Haden Church as Alicia's ex-boyfriend, and Charles Rocket as her ex-husband.
The show had an odd style, with long, drawn out punch lines. They were very funny, but the humor came from the amount of detail and description in the joke, and the style put some people off. It also changed direction in mid-stream, as Neil moved from a mundane job to working in a small-time movie studio (with Mary Woronov as his boss). I get the feeling they were trying different things to help the ratings. It didn't help, and the show was cancelled.
In the final episode, Neil and Alicia break up -- but they meet six months later and it's clear things aren't over yet.
Creator Richard Rosenstock went on to work on several successful TV shows, including Friends, Arrested Development, Family Guy, Will and Grace, and The King of Queens.One of the writers, Linwood Boomer, later created Malcolm in the Middle.
Corey Parker has worked in TV since, though not consistently and not as a lead.
Leoni used the role as a breakthrough and has been working regularly, with good roles in Flirting with Disaster, Spanglish and other films. Alas, she suffered the fate of too many women in Hollywood once they turn thirty: switching from romantic to "mommy" roles even though she still looked good enough to play romantic roles. But whenever I see her, I think of Alicia.
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