tv critic’s corner

The shameless retooling of ‘Kevin Can Wait’

“Kevin Can Wait” writers are killing off the wife character played by Erinn Hayes (with star Kevin James).
Michael Parmelee/CBS
“Kevin Can Wait” writers are killing off the wife character played by Erinn Hayes (with star Kevin James).

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such cold opportunism in the TV industry. Oh, wait, I definitely have; it’s the TV industry. But still, the whole “Kevin Can Wait” shakeup is queasy-making, and I don’t even like “Kevin Can Wait.” In fact, I dislike the show, for its lazy humor and gender clichés.

As you may know, after a successful season playing James’s wife, named Donna, actress Erinn Hayes was fired in June. The CBS show was going in a different direction, as they say euphemistically, even though it was last season’s No. 1 new comedy, with an average of 9.1 million viewers per episode.

Also in June, Leah Remini — who starred opposite James for nine seasons in “The King of Queens” — was hired as a regular on “Kevin Can Wait.” How convenient! She will expand on the guest role she played in the “Kevin Can Wait” season finale, as a wisecracking undercover cop named Vanessa. Reportedly, Kevin will work for Vanessa at a security agency this season.


And as for poor Donna? Well, when the show returns next month, the action will pick up after the death of Hayes’s character. That’s right, the writers are killing off Donna. Her account has been deleted, so to speak.

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“The character will have passed away, and we will be moving forward in time, catching up at a later date,” CBS programming exec Thom Sherman said on “Entertainment Tonight.”

Now, of course, Kevin will be single. Will Kevin and Vanessa have a love connection? Will they re-create the “King of Queens” chemistry so cherished by the fans of that successful series (also on CBS), now that Donna is out of the way? Ewww.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.