Patricia Heaton and Jeff Daniels star in TNT's The Goodbye Girl, a contemporary remake of Neil Simon's classic play (and subsequent 1977 film) about an unlucky-in-love divorc‚e and an aspiring actor who are forced to live together in a New York City apartment. Simon is at the helms again, acting as screenwriter and executive producer.
Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) plays Paula McFadden, a single mother who has recently been deserted by her live-in actor boyfriend. This marks the second time Paula has been left by a man -- the first was her ex-husband -- and she's had enough of being the "goodbye girl." Paula and her daughter Lucy (Hallie Kate Eisenberg, the curly-haired girl from the Pepsi commercials) face even worse news when they discover that Paula's boyfriend has secretly sublet their apartment to someone else -- another actor, Elliot Garfield (Daniels, Dumb and Dumber). Faced with eviction, Paula opts to live with Elliot. His quirky habits -- he sleeps in the nude, plays guitar at 3 a.m. and meditates loudly at the stroke of dawn -- lead to tension between the two.
This television adaptation is mediocre. It is difficult to identify with the characters. Both Heaton and Daniels seem to overplay their roles: Upon learning of her boyfriend's desertion, Heaton cries in childlike despair while her ten-year-old daughter (whose lack of talent is probably the most palpable) rereads the goodbye letter aloud. This scene seems like a comedy sketch, reflecting a total lack of sincerity or emotion. Daniels overdoes his quirkiness, using flamboyant speech and body movements to portray himself as a true actor. Furthermore, the storyline is trite. This is somewhat expected in any romantic comedy, however, The Goodbye Girl is more bland and predictable than most romantic comedies, on TV or otherwise. Don't go out of your way to watch the inevitable reruns on TNT.