A Cliché Is Born on Lifetime

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Taking a cue from its broadcast sitcom sisters, Lifetime
Television's Oh Baby! will deliver its title infant in a two-parter concluding
March 13.

The birth episodes contain two of this viewer's least
favorite things: delayed gratification and a laugh track.

On the other hand, the show borrowed the concept of
"stunt casting." The series grabbed Emmy Award-winner Camryn Manheim to play a
take-no-prisoners maternity nurse who's trying to get in one more birth and all of her
wisecracks before the midnight deadline for a labor walkout.

As a nod to those of us who may not have kept up with the
series since its debut, the birthing episodes start out with a recap.

Tracy (Cynthia Stevenson) had no man, wanted a baby and
went the sperm-bank route. Immediately after she committed to this course, she met a man
who could have been Mr. Right, then broke up with him. Her best friend had an affair with
Tracy's obstetrician, then they broke up. And Tracy's parents were separated, making her
mom (Jessica Walter) more neurotic than ever.

The explanation for all of this Sturm und Drang:
"Life is easy on network television. This is cable," Tracy tells the camera
during one of the show's trademark breaking-the-third-wall expositions.

But cable or not, it ends up being just as cliché as every
TV birth: false starts to the hospital, the gathering of familial lunatics in the birthing
room, the put-upon staff giving as good as they get. There are a few good lines: When the
cute anesthesiologist refuses more meds and instead plugs in a soothing audiotape, Tracy
screams, "A monkey could do that, pretty boy!"

It is artfully staged, but staged is the operative word.
The artifice gets in the way of two very talented comedic performers -- Stevenson and best
friend Charlotte (Joanna Gleason).

Even the ending is borrowed: As she greets her new son, she
mutters, "Now what?" -- shades of The Candidate, when Robert Redford
suddenly realizes that there is life after political campaigning.

The birthing episodes have begun: The baby will arrive on
Lifetime March 13 at 8 p.m.

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