Her father (Paul Sorvino) is a toll collector and New York Giants fan who thinks nothing of holding up traffic to talk to his darling daughter for a few minutes as she passes through his lane.
Her mother (Ellen Burstyn) is an insult artist who only tells her card-playing friends how smart her daughter is and how much she adores her. Her brother (Kevin Dillon) is a cop who still wrestles with her and adolescence. Her best friend (Debi Mazar) is a hairstylist who would do practically anything for her. Even go to a college library.
Welcome to the world of Lydia DeLucca (Heather Paige Kent) in "That's Life," an adorable CBS drama that the network is giving a special Sunday airing (8 p.m., Channel 4) before moving it to Saturday nights.
Brilliantly-cast, beautifully-written and with a killer sound track, the pilot has the look and feel of a feature film.
Kent, whose previous TV failures include "Jenny" and last year's "Stark Raving Mad," is charming as the 32-year-old college woman who ditches her sexist fiance to go to college. Or, as Lydia explains: "I'm the only person I know who literally dreamed about cramming for a final."
When she proves to be an expert in a human sexuality class, she explains to the surprised professor: "I used to work for an urologist."
Full of small little touches and clever lines, this is one smart and funny series that should graduate to the top of the Saturday ratings. And it actually gets stronger as the hour goes on, concluding with Lydia's pronouncement that she grew up thinking that Frank Sinatra was the pope. If you want to know why, tune in Sunday. I'm just hoping "That's Life" isn't riding high in October and shot down in May (when CBS announces its next season). If future episodes are anywhere near as strong as the opener, "That's Life" will have a better season than the Giants.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 4
Speaking of adorable Italian families, Monday's premiere of "Everybody Loves Raymond" (9 p.m., Channel 4) sees the Barone family heading to Italy to visit relatives. For a change, Ray (Ray Romano) isn't as happy as Debra (Patricia Heaton) is about being around his parents. He pouts, ruining Debra's fun in the process. Other than an amusing scene in the bathtub and a language misunderstanding involving Ray's aunt, the two-parter (it concludes Oct. 9) is a simple joy that still loses something in translation.
Much of the story revolves around Robert's (Brad Garrett) pursuit of a beautiful Italian woman whose father is played by David Proval, who was a memorable villain on "The Sopranos" last season. Of course, Ray comes around eventually and has some fun. There just aren't many laughs. Maybe, however, the trip will provide numerous jokes during the rest of the season.
Rating: 2 1/2 stars