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Fall TV so far is all about the 'Girls'

September 22, 2011 - Keith Frederick
I'm not a guy with a whole lot of time for TV — I have two kids at home, 2 and almost 6 — but my DVR works overtime during the fall. It's an exciting time, because all the new shows are starting and you just never know what you'll fall in love with.

It's like a trip to the bar when you're single; you never know what you'll find, but 'the one' might be just around the corner. My wife and I went through the fall schedule last week to see what we'd like to give a try and, so far, we've come across a few quality "dates."

"2 Broke Girls," CBS, 8:30 p.m. Mondays - I'll admit that I expected this show to be Kat Dennings (a favorite of mine) slumming it on TV, playing opposite a stereotypical blonde bimbo as diner waitresses. But I was very wrong.

Dennings' dry, sarcastic humor as career waitress Max is just as effective on TV as it is on film, and her counterpart, newcomer Beth Behrs is far from a stereotype. Her Caroline - an heiress whose family goes broke when it's revealed her father is a crook - is a Wharton School of Business grad who forgoes the typical "clueless rich girl" route and immediately finds herself a job. The pair play off of each other very well and the pilot had me laughing out loud most of the time.

The supporting cast could be trouble, as it's nearly non-existent. Garrett Morris is the "name" of the co-stars, if you consider a bit player on the original cast of "SNL" a "name." Then there's a bad Russian stereotype cook and a bad Asian stereotype boss. Hopefully they're fleshed out better. Quickly.

Watchability factor: Four blue plate specials out of five

"New Girl," Fox, 9 p.m. Tuesdays - Honestly, we went into this one with high hopes. This comedy starring Zooey Deschanel was pretty much unanimously named the "one to watch" throughout the entertainment world. And, it turned out, it was at the top of the charts for a reason.

Deschanel has been a favorite of mine since she showed up crooning "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in "Elf." With her radiant smile, big blue eyes (if you look up "doe-eyed" in the dictionary, there's not even a sentence; it's just Zooey's picture) and infectious personality, it's impossible not to be charmed by her. And as "New Girl's" Jess, she's a wonder - still smiling through the tears after a bad breakup, quietly singing her own, imaginary theme song to strangers and hitting on guys with a completely un-ironic "Hey, sailor!"

I've seen the supporting cast knocked as one-dimensional, but that's just typical impatient entertainment criticism. You've seen one episode, folks. Give it time. And, once again, there's a beautiful woman - Jess's model best friend, CeCe (Hannah Simone) - who is a fully developed character with intelligence and loyalty to her friend.

Watchability factor: Five bars of the "It's Jess!" theme song out of five

"Unforgettable," CBS, 10 p.m. Tuesdays - I was ready to hate this one, actually. Another in a long, long, LONG line of CBS procedurals, it stars Poppy Montgomery and Dylan Walsh. Montgomery is an incredibly good-looking woman, but she didn't have the most likable character on her previous series, "Without a Trace" - a show I hated anyway. And Walsh was one of the stars of perhaps the most ridiculous show to ever make it to air, FX's sex and violence fiesta, "Nip/Tuck."

But, somehow, Montgomery's former cop Carrie Wells won me over very quickly - maybe cheaply, as you first meet her as she volunteers at a nursing home. Then you learn about her medical condition, hyperthymesia; a real, exceptionally rare condition (said to be verified in only 20 individuals in the world) in which a person has total recall over every day and every moment of their lives. When Carrie's old boyfriend and partner, an NYPD detective (Walsh) discovers her as a witness to a crime, she reluctantly gets back into crime-fighting, this time as a consultant. Montgomery and Walsh have a nice, easygoing chemistry for a pilot episode.

The way Carrie's condition is portrayed, visually, doesn't really work for me - she walks about as a kind of tourist in her own memories as she recreates a crime. It's a gimmick that's been done before, most notably in "Criminal Minds," another CBS crime drama that's still on the air. But I'll give the show more of a chance before letting that ruin it for me.

Watchability factor: Three mysterious corpses out of five

Of course, not every new show so far has been a success. "The Playboy Club" probably won't make it more than a week or two - which is probably how soon their "Mad Men"-lite storylines run out of steam anyway. NBC's "Up All Night" is supposed to appeal to parents of young kids, right? The exact people who don't have time to watch it, and certainly don't want to relive it? Yeah. "H8r" stars Mario Lopez, so that'll be cancelled soon.

But I have high hopes for this season. I'm also looking forward to the start of "Grimm," "Once Upon a Time" and "Allen Gregory." I'll give you my thoughts on those after they premiere next month.

 
 

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"2 Broke Girls" - Two pretty, smart girls on TV? How can that work?!