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With the official start of the 2005-06 season less than two months away, the drumbeats have begun by the networks to tout their new comedies and dramas. What should you keep your eye out for? What should you avoid at all costs? While it's still a little early for full reviews (some recasting and reshooting will be done on a good chunk of them), we thought we'd spend the next month previewing what's in store for the upcoming season. Each day we'll look at two of the 47 new series set to premiere this season and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot.
There's no particular order here, just whatever's next on the stack of tapes. So without further ado, here's today's entries:
OLD CHRISTINE (CBS)
(TBA at midseason)
The network's description: CBS has yet to release an official description of the series.
What did they leave out: See above.
The plot in a nutshell: Divorced mom Christine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) thinks she has everything covered. She runs a "Curves"-esque female-only gym, her son (Trevor Gagnon) is starting a new exclusive private school and she actually gets along with her ex-husband (Clark Gregg). But as this is a sitcom, things aren't that simple, as she discovers over the course of the pilot. Her son's new school is filled with stay-at-home moms who like nothing better than to gossip about Christine's single, working mom ways; her brother (Hamish Linklater) has moved in and has no ambition beyond wearing his bathrobe and eating cereal; and her ex-husband apparently has been secretly seeing a (gasp!) younger woman (Emily Rutherfurd) who coincidentally is also named Christine. "That would make you the 'old' Christine," one of the soccer moms delights telling Christine.
What works: Much like "Two and a Half Men," all the best lines often come from the kid - "Where are all the black kids?" he says upon arriving at his new school, much to Christine's horror. And I'm almost ashamed to say I got a few giggles from the "new" Christine, such as when she accidentally walks into the glass doors to "old" Christine's office not once, but twice.
What doesn't: It's basically on par with "Listen Up," Jason Alexander's similarly harmless sitcom from last season. In other words it's not terrible or unwatchable nor is it anything to get too excited about. I'm sure the pundits out there will be quick to dismiss it as another notch in the "Seinfeld curse" belt (which I should note is right up there with certain actors being "showkillers" as being the most annoying knee-jerk reactions people make). In the end I couldn't help but walk away feeling underwhelmed but not terribly annoyed, which in today's sitcom climate is almost Emmy-worthy.
The challenges ahead: The building blocks are there for a decent, serviceable sitcom (think "Still Standing" or "Less Than Perfect") - but we'll have to wait and see sometime next year if one actually gets built.