Archive for Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New sitcoms explore love, marriage

November 28, 2006

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Two new sitcoms arrive, each with a big ensemble cast and hardly an original idea between them.

"Big Day" (8 p.m., ABC) owes much to the "Meet the Parents" franchise, as well as the BBC comedy "The Worst Week of My Life." The comedy presents a minute-by-minute look at the wedding day of bride Alice (Marla Sokoloff) and her groom, Danny (Josh Cooke), as her rich family prepares for a huge ceremony and celebration.

Tensions mount as Alice and her brittle mother (Wendie Malick) fight over the choice of salad and Alice's surgeon father confronts her about Danny's maturity level. He is a professional camp counselor who has chosen the theme song of "What's Happening!!" for their wedding march.

"Big Day" moves at a quick pace and contains plenty of physical gags and awkward moments. Unfortunately, nearly every character in this show is either selfish, shallow, rude or socially inept. Set against this eccentric cast, the bride and groom don't seem terribly interesting, making it difficult to care about their "Big Day."

¢ A woman's voiceover speaks of the rules of relationships. She is a columnist for a city paper, forever clicking at her laptop. She discusses her love life with an extended gaggle of friends over drinks and meals. This must be "Sex and the City," right? No, it's "My Boys" (9 p.m., TBS), a blatant variation on the old HBO show that has become a TBS staple.

But, in this case, the narrator and protagonist, P.J. (Jordana Spiro), is a sportswriter who covers the Cubs for a Chicago paper. Her entourage is almost entirely male, including her miserably married brother (Jim Gaffigan), a fellow sportswriter, a male roommate and several single guys.

P.J.'s voiceover observations about love and life are laced with sports metaphors and quips about stealing signs, making a play and holding your cards. She drinks beer, eats pizza and hosts a weekly poker party.

With virtually every scene shot at a bar or around a poker table, "Boys" has an old-fashioned feel to it. P.J. lives far from the neurotic world of "Sex and the City." She dwells in a place where everybody knows her name. She just wishes somebody would treat her like a lady.

P.J. is far too pretty to be believed as a beer-guzzling tomboy, but Spiro has created a likeable, sympathetic character. She dominates the show but shares scenes easily with the comedy's sprawling cast. She may be one of the boys, but she's clearly the star.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Smash takes desperate measures on "Friday Night Lights" (7 p.m., NBC).

¢ Laurelai joins a knitting circle on "Gilmore Girls" (7 p.m., CW).

¢ A cyber-kidnapping may be a hoax on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (8 p.m., NBC).

¢ The doctor sues a patient's parents on "House" (8 p.m., Fox).

¢ People from diverse backgrounds discuss their feelings about the holidays on "The Great American Christmas" (8 p.m., USA).

¢ A patient's sister resists lifesaving surgery on "3 lbs." (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ The holiday's true meaning shines through the commercial clutter in the 1965 animated special "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (7 p.m., ABC).

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