'Kevin Hill' Called Triumph For UPN

By Michelle
September 29, 2004 - 8:41 PM

UPN's new Wednesday night series Kevin Hill, starring Taye Diggs as a single lawyer who inherits custody of his infant niece when his cousin is killed in an attempted robbery, has earned excellent reviews for its debut episode tonight at 9 p.m. The show will follow UPN's success story from last season, America's Next Top Model, regularly on Wednesday nights.

  • Variety (via Yahoo!) called the series a positive addition to the schedule, claiming that Diggs "has the charm and chops to carry a show" and praising writer Jorge A. Reyes for the script, which sees Hill leave his job at a high-power firm to become the only male lawyer in an all-female office where he finds himself working with a former one-night stand. The opening episode was overly full of plot twists, stated reviewer Laura Fries, who added that "a better sense of pace and a touch more realism could spell the difference between a really good show and merely an entertaining one."

  • Barry Garron of The Hollywood Reporter said that Reyes' script "somehow makes the situation not only plausible but dramatically energetic and rife with potential", partly because of Diggs' versatility as a romantic lead and paternal figure and partly because his character ends up in a law firm "headed by three head-turning women." Like Fries, Garron found it "a little too convenient that the perfect and gay nanny, George Weiss (Patrick Breen), turns up right after Kevin quits the firm in disgust." However, the enjoyable setup made the stumbles worth overlooking.

  • The New York Times reviewer Virginia Heffernan called the womanizer clichés and the prig nanny "unpromising" but said that on Kevin Hill the sum of the elements were more than its parts, "a profoundly pleasing hour." She was pleased that money on the show was treated not as the root of all evil but "integral to Kevin's life; his challenge is not to renounce it but to spend it right." Diggs, she noted, "is so flawless in this role that he even makes giving up misogyny look like a real sacrifice, and still manages to be likable," though she had questions remaining about the character's unexplored background at the end of the pilot.

  • Tom Shales, the notoriously hard to please reviewer at The Washington Post, called Kevin Hill "one of the best-looking shows ever to emerge from the hardscrabble UPN network" despite a premise so contrived that "it could just as well be a parody on Fox's The Mad Show." Even so, he added, in an era of fakery on reality shows, believability may be an overrated virtue. Diggs, he notes, "is definitely a television star," saying that even if Kevin Hill does not carry him "merrily to the top", then another vehicle will.

  • Though the series "breaks a lot of ground in network TV" with a black single father, a gay nanny and a law firm dominated by women, wrote Kay McFadden of The Seattle Times, she found the show "resolutely traditional" in its development of carefree attorney Hill into "Mr. Mom." Calling the series "the crowning result of UPN's transformation", she praised the absorbing legal case spotlighted in the first episode and the breaking of stereotypes about animosity between heterosexual black men and gay men. The show demands and deserves to be seen, she concluded:
    The artful blending of new and old, of wide-eyed emotional manipulation and wink-wink modern touches, makes Kevin Hill among this fall's best and most refreshing new dramas...it was a long time coming, and I don't mean the late-season debut tonight at 9.

  • "With a less capable actor in the title role, UPN's Kevin Hill...might be less than the sum of its familiar parts. But starring the charming and magnetic Taye Diggs, Kevin Hill defies expectations," wrote Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While he found the first installment well-written, "tonight's pilot episode would not soar if not for the charismatic Diggs." Owen also stated that all of the characters were provided with "a surprising amount of detail" and he liked the use of popular music in the soundtrack.

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