Thanks to my ‘On Demand’ habit, I have been able to watch a surprising number of this Fall’s new tv shows. And because I am, ahem, a lady, it seems that most of my chosen shows have been specifically targeted to the ladies. Score, tv marketing people! Although you may not want to have me figured out exactly, it seems you do. As such, this is what I have seen so far:
The New Girl: Starring the adorable and quirky Zooey Deschanel and three dudes, one of which is a Wayans. Deschanel moves into a charming urban apartment with three young guys she’s never met, after abruptly splitting with her live-in boyfriend. (She catches him cheating on her.) This show instantly fell apart for me because it relies on the premise that any three guys in the world would not immediately fall in love with and/or be attracted to Zooey Deschanel. Plus which, she plays a sweet girl, not a crazy person or a man-eating monster, and she dresses cute, and is post-breakup vulnerable. C’mon now writers, at least throw a credible obstacle our way.
Verdict: Almost worth it for the “Aaah OOOgah” bit Deschanel does with her glasses on seeing a hot guy in bar, but not quite. Although sitcom writing has improved greatly since the seventies, this one is still smells like “Three’s Company.”
Ringers: Sarah Michelle Gellar plays identical twins –one a rich, married Manhattanite and the other a SoCal floozy — who are both on the run from the law, significant others, creditors and (possibly) agents who don’t care about them anymore. Of course they trade identities, a la every other movie and soap opera about twins, and no one notices. Although the plot is meant to be intriguing and sexy, it is just contrived and — in the words of a knowledgable ten-year-old — “stoopit”. Making it even worse in this age of fantabulous CGI effects, the show doesn’t seem to have updated its “both twins in the frame” technology since The Parent Trap. And I mean Haley Mills’ Parent Trap.
Verdict: Except for some drool-worthy Manhattan interiors, this one is a total miss. Sorry Sarah Michelle, you know I love you, but better luck next time.
Revenge: A young woman, whose decent middle-class family has been ruined by a wealthy and despicable “Kennedy-esque” clan, returns to the scene of the crime — the Hamptons — to single-handedly bring down the east coast dynasty. No super-famous stars in this one, though they are all attractive and some do look familiar. Don’t ask me why this show is better than the Sarah Michelle Geller vehicle, to which it bears some resemblance, but it is. Perhaps because it offers us some really good baddies, and we don’t mind at all when they are set adrift in a rowboat in the Long Island Sound, perhaps someday to come ashore in Jersey (eew).
Verdict: Impossible plot in a beautiful location. This one knows what it is. A guilty pleasure.
Prime Suspect: I saw the star of this series, Maria Bello, promoting it on a morning talk show, and I thought “Oh no, this sounds horrible. How could they?” I’m a huge fan of the Helen Mirren/BBC series of the same name, and my reaction was somewhat akin to hearing that NBC had remade — I don’t know what an appropriate analogy would be here — say, ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ with Justin Bieber. No, no said Maria to the ‘Good Morning Whatever’ host, the new show is quite different; it’s New York in 2011, not London in the 90′s. And it would have to be different. Because the original series was subtle, it had complex characters that you cared about, very few if any guns and car chases, plus Helen Mirren and her hair that always looked good.
But, like any idiot who drives past a car wreck on I-95, I just had to slow down and look. So I watched the pilot. And it was good. Yes, it’s a different show. Maria Bello”s character, Jane Timoney, carries a gun that would stop Dirty Harry in his tracks. And there are car chases and fights. And Jane’s boyfriend has been upgraded from an endearingly schlumpy construction company owner to a white-hot, shirtless carpenter.
But there are still quite a few similarities to the original series. While the sexism that dogged Helen Mirren’s every step has abated a bit, it’s still there for Maria Bello’s Jane Timoney. In fact, both the old and new Janes get a significant career boost from a colleague’s unfortunate medical event. And then there is both old and new Jane’s weird affinity for children (not entirely believable in the original series either), and her ability to get information out of suspects by getting in their heads, rather than hitting their heads with the phone book. And Maria Bello’s hair isn’t bad either.
Bottom line: I’m a fan of the new Jane. Giant gun and all. Not the least because she actually DOES something. She’s not a “columnist” or a “decorator” or a “philanthropist” whose work all happens off screen, and apparently at 3 o’clock in the morning. I like her toughness – even if it’s a bit of fantasy. Somewhere along the line, someone must have told Jane,”If you want to cry, go outside” and somehow, someway, she’s been able to pull it off. Gonna DVR every episode and hope they’re all as good as the pilot.