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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2007-2008 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere this season and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. While it's still a little early for full reviews (some recasting and reshooting will be done on a good chunk of them), we still want to give you a heads up on what you should - and shouldn't - keep on your radar in the coming months.
And as an added bonus this year, each day we'll also take a look at one of the pilots that didn't make the cut. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
BONUS FIRST LOOK: I'M PAIGE WILSON (The CW)
(pilot not ordered to series)
The network's description: No official description has been released.
What did they leave out: The screened pilot was actually shot as a "presentation," meaning it's more of a selection of key scenes (just under 26 minutes by my count) rather than a full blown first episode. If it had been picked up to series, the footage would have been expanded into a full pilot. In addition, "Paige" is a redeveloped version of the ABC pilot "Capital City" from a few years back (click here for details), which had Leslie Bibb in the analogous role.
The plot in a nutshell: A radio interview at Brown University frames our introduction to the plucky Paige Wilson (Jaime Ray Newman). We then jump back to Paige's first day working for Republican Congressman (and Speaker of the House) Noah Benjamin Foxworthy (Will Lyman, taking a demotion from his days as President on "Commander-in-Chief") where it goes like all first days of plucky, young people on TV shows - like a bull in a China shop. And so between lobbying the Congressman to read her paper on the environment and pointing out his latest speech mirrors a Nazi propaganda film, she's given the lay of the land by the embittered Gloria (Merle Dandridge) not to mention makes eyes with speechwriter Michael "Birdy" McGinty (Neal Bledsoe). Fast forward again to a month later as life is pretty much going well for Paige. She's meeting and greeting the various Washington elite - including the liberal Diane Shelton (Mary Page Keller), whose politics are more in line with her own - while Birdy still proves to be interested despite her "three months until sex" rule. That is of course until Foxworthy finds himself in a battle with Shelton over a troop increase (the show is careful not to use Iraq by name) and the dirty politics begin. It seems that Foxworthy and his crony (Teddy Sears) want to leak some incrementing files about the validity of Shelton's Medal of Honor. Rather than have their fingerprints on it, they ask Birdy to dupe Paige into doing it. He protests at first but eventually develops a cover story to get Paige on board and she buys it. From there it doesn't take Nostradamus to figure out Paige doesn't take the fallout well, leading her to tell Foxworthy and Birdy what she thinks of them and... drum roll please... she's going to run against Foxworthy and take his Rhode Island seat from him. Cut back to Paige at Brown - with Gloria as her campaign manager - taking calls about her campaign, which has apparently sparked a youth movement unheard of before.
What works: Fans of Rod Lurie's previous effort "Commander-in-Chief" will be right at home here, with its cartoonish portrayal of Foxworthy and its holier-than-thou attitude of Paige. Unfortunately...
What doesn't: ...I'm not one of them. Let's face it - "The West Wing" has set the gold standard for "you are there" political shows. Say what you will about its actual politics, but there hasn't been a finer example of the hustle and bustle of Washington before or after it left the airwaves. With that in mind, it's almost eye rolling to watch the overly simplistic portrayal of Washington "Paige" puts forth. Oh and the bad guy is a hawkish Republican who makes inappropriate comments about women and those who have served in the military behind closed doors! Paige is for the environment... and puppy dogs! I wonder who we'll be rooting for? It's all so mind numbingly naive. And that's just on the surface. We're also told Paige is some kind of wunderkind - she was in the ROTC and sings in a rock band - but only actually shown the few quips listed above and that she gets really mad when she's duped into doing something bad. Maybe I'm being too hard, but the show just feels so ridiculous.
The bottom line: As if I have to tell you.