Archive for Monday, January 17, 2011

MTV’s ‘Skins,’ Syfy’s ‘Being Human’ highlight Monday night of TV remakes

January 17, 2011

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If at first you don’t succeed, make the same mistake all over again. Substitute Kathy Bates for Jimmy Smits and a dull patent law office for the Supreme Court, and the new series “Harry’s Law” (10 p.m., NBC) is essentially “Outlaw” reanimated by writer/producer David E. Kelley. If you missed “Outlaw,” it’s because it was canceled after two weeks.

For reasons never explained, super successful patent attorney Harriet Korn (Bates) has a crisis of conscience, throws away her career and decides, after moments of outlandish coincidence and magical realism, to open a small law firm in the bad part of town. There, in the logic of David E. Kelley, the people are more “real.”

She’s aided by her perky secretary, Jenna (Brittany Snow), who discovers that the former tenant left a lifetime supply of fancy shoes behind, allowing Harry/Harriet to open a shoe store/law firm, with all of the winsome hilarity that entails. As in every Kelley legal comedy, Harry and her staff take serious cases before rumpled and befuddled judges and make outlandish pronouncements filled with topical asides.

Happily, Kelley appears to have left his “Big Chill” soundtrack behind.

• Two acclaimed British series get the remake treatment tonight.

“Being Human” (8 p.m., Syfy) takes the buddy/roommate drama to monstrous new lengths, as Josh (Sam Huntington), a werewolf, and Aidan (Sam Witwer), a vampire, form a friendship at the hospital where they work and pass as “normal.” They decide to become roommates and soon learn that their apartment comes with the ghost of Sally (Meaghan Rath), the recently deceased fiancee of their grieving landlord.

Like the British series, “Human” revolves around the complications of the living and the undead — Aidan’s efforts to keep his homicidal hunger at bay, Josh’s once-a-month descent into bestial brutality and Sally’s awkward adjustment to spectral status. The U.K. “Human” was not afraid to be rather funny, to play up the odd sitcom nature of the three “Friends.” This competently made American version became bleaker and more “Twilight” moody in translation. Not necessarily an improvement.

• MTV will probably tout “Skins” (9 p.m., MTV) as controversial. But the pilot remains strangely lifeless, a shot-for-shot, line-for-line remake of the British series about a clique of high school pals with an almost caustically casual take on sex and drugs. The young cast is strong and might improve if the series departs from its rote recreation of the original. But as it is, they almost seem like they’re putting on a play. To make matters worse, almost all of the adult characters are over the top, making the teachers and parents on “Glee” seem realistic by comparison.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Candice Bergen guest stars on “House” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Max’s old colleague seems curious on “The Cape” (8 p.m., NBC).

• A traffic accident multi-fatality yields conflicting stories on “Lie to Me” (8 p.m., Fox).

• Junior poaches a client from Senior on “American Chopper” (8 p.m., Discovery).

• A chase comes to a grim conclusion on “Hawaii Five-O” (9 p.m., CBS).

• A race to stop a serial killer on “Castle” (9 p.m., ABC).

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