I was just a kid watching TV one night when a promo came on... a new series called "Dear John" was premiering tonight with Judd Hirsch! I didn't know who Judd Hirsch was or what the show was about but I tuned in anyway.
"Dear John" is about a man who comes home to find his wife has left him, leaving a standard "Dear John" letter on the mantle. He then joins a divorce support group at a community center, and the show revolves around these meetings and the characters who attend. The show has one of the most maudlin, sappy theme songs in the history of television, with a morose woman crooning "DEEER JOHNNNN..." The opening was lame too, with John coming home to find the letter EVERY WEEK with a heartbroken sigh. Somehow Judd Hirsch makes it work. He's that great. I started watching the show regularly.
Dear John was actually very funny, and Judd Hirsch was once again the rock that grounds the show and allows the other actors to shine (SEE: Taxi). The only problem on this show was the dreaded Jere Burns. His Kirk character was supposedly a smooth-talking, chauvinistic womanizer (think Sam Malone meets Fonzie) but Jere over-played the role to the point of nauseating me and probably millions of others. He had his hair greased up in a pompadour and he walked with a swagger and he talked like a 50's greaser. It was clear the producers decided he would be the breakout star of the show- they all but renamed it "Kirk!"- as Jere got more and more stories, hamming his way into the history books. It eventually became unwatchable.
Is there any TV cliché more grating than the sex-addicted lady-killer? I've known guys who were real ladies men, who had more sex in a week than I have had in my lifetime, and they never, ever behaved like obnoxious, aggressive braggarts. They were quiet and unassuming and almost reticent about their exploits. Unfortunately there was no subtlety to Kirk, who became more of a cartoon every week. Jere Burns was running wild with this cringe-worthy character, and he threw off the balance of this once-sweet show.
The cast also included a nerdy guy and a British woman whose catchphrase was: "Were there any (pause) SEXUAL problems?" It probably doesn't seem like much of a catchphrase if you haven't seen the show but there it is. (It helps if you say it in her pronounced British accent and really hit the word "Sexual")
Since this show Jere has played a nauseating husband and father in "Something So Right" and a pathetic groveling misfit in "Good Morning Miami". Judd Hirsch has gone on to greater things. In conclusion "Dear John" was good, and could have been great. It's worth a look if they ever re-run it.
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