“Out of Practice” Improving with Practice


Paual Marshall Even Regina’s brothers make the occasional quip about her being unfeminine (“excuse me for being the daughter mom never had,” etc.). But she really isn’t unfeminine, particularly by lesbian standards, which would cast Crystal as high femme and all of the other women who have appeared on the show not far behind.

Regina takes these remarks in good humor, probably because she is secure in her family’s acceptance of her being a lesbian, even if she finds occasional reason to question it. When the family joins forces to ease Ben through the news that his wife, Naomi, is leaving him, Regina complains to her mom that she doesn’t remember any rallying of the troops after her own last breakup. Lydia asks which ex Regina is referring to and quickly rattles of a long list from memory.

Regina gets the point but seems touched: “Wow, you remembered them all.” Until Lydia replies: “Yes. Do you?” Regina gives her a ha-ha look, and usually seems less annoyed than warily amused by her mother’s remarks and their predictability.

While the comments to Regina get a bit tiresome, it is a sort of game her mother likes to play. Lydia’s love for her daughter is clear and this banter is how she expresses it.

Another running joke that has the potential to wear out its humor is Regina as a womanizer. She volunteers a bit too eagerly to show the model who is on a date with her brother Oliver to the bathroom and to help Crystal out of some complicated lingerie she excuses herself to remove. Lydia is wise to her daughter’s game and stops her both times, which serves as the punchline.

When the model Oliver ends up asking out enters the diner where the Barnes family regularly congregates, she is gawked at by everyone at the table except Lydia, who orders them all (Stewart, Oliver and Regina) to “refurl” their tongues. Regardless of whether this would be likely behavior for someone like Regina, she at least isn’t alone in ogling the eye candy.

When Regina complains that she’s bored, Ben reassures her that she’s simply in between girlfriends. Regina smiles slyly and counters with “Trust me, if I were between girlfriends I would not be bored.” She clearly enjoys life as a single lesbian and seems to know how to have a good time–that is, if she only had any time for it, given her busy schedule on call at the E.R.

Hopefully it won’t prove to be all talk and the writers will eventually give Regina a love interest or two–on camera.

Out of Practice writers Joe Keenan and Christopher Lloyd (not the one of Taxi and Back to the Future fame) have worked together as writers for Bram & Alice as well as Frasier. The Out of Practice pilot was directed by Kelsey Grammer and the first three episodes share Frasier’s family-style barb-hurling humor. Ben’s wife Naomi, who misses her husband’s thirtieth birthday because she has chained herself to a tree in Oregon, remains to be seen as of Episode Three, but Ben’s family seems happy Naomi isn’t around. Only Regina seems to have been fond of her, but when she says Naomi has always been nice to her, Oliver points out: “You’re a lesbian. She couldn’t like you more if you were a spotted owl.”

While the show is in the same vein as Frasier, it isn’t so to a copycat degree. It looks like it’s already finding its own voice. And the lesbian component certainly distinguishes it from Frasier and most any other show on prime time.

Out of Practice airs Mondays at 9:30 PM on CBS

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