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Predictably, if morbidly, Tuesday’s one-hour return episode drew a vast audience, bolstering ABC’s sweeps bottom line.

And now, one suspects, the show will pretty quickly fade.

He graduated from Westminster College and became a freelance writer.

Soon, Cate’s “bitterly divorced” parents, played by Garner and Suzanne Pleshette, arrive to provide moral support.

As they bicker about artificial sweeteners and attending church, it’s amazing how much you found yourself missing the laughtrack, conspicuously absent from the episode.

There was nothing surprising about this genial series in happier days, and there was nothing surprising about what one of the ratings hotlines labeled “the death episode.” The hour delivered lots of group hugs, tears and platitudes about the unfairness of such a loss, best delivered by an avuncular James Garner.

The consistent refrain from the network and cast has been “This happens to families,” which is of course true.

Director James Widdoes and the four credited writers clearly sought to be sensitive, and there was something irresistibly emotional about the fictitious family’s pain given its real-life underpinnings.

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