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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: SEE JAYNE RUN (ABC)
(pilot not ordered to series)
The network's description: "Jayne Doherty was a top performer at a high-powered, male-dominated Wall Street investment bank where 100-hour work weeks are the status quo and the mighty dollar is everything. But then she accidentally got pregnant and decided to raise the baby herself. Returning to the office in record time as her old, Type-A workaholic self, Jayne expects to effortlessly juggle work and home life. However, she is quickly forced to come to terms with her complete naivete about the realities of being a single, working mom. On her first day back at the office, Jayne has to handle a multi-billion dollar new business pitch with Roger, an old flame from the London office, and Paul, the boss's incompetent nephew, who is gunning for her job. Not only that, she catches her annoyingly thin French nanny drinking and fires her on the spot. Jayne believes that if she can just get through the next two days, they'll win the deal, Roger will return to England, and she'll get better help at home. But she's in for a rude awakening when things don't go as planned. Jayne learns she's in for even more surprises. If you thought your life was busy, you ain't seen nothing until you "See Jayne Run.""
What did they leave out: Nothing of consequence.
The plot in a nutshell: Animated interstitials of an overburdened PDA calendar frame our window into the hyperactive world of Jayne Doherty (Heather Locklear). She's returning to work after six weeks of maternity leave and already fears she's been left behind in the rat race. ("Step out of place for a second and you'll lose your place in line," she quips to a cabbie.) And upon arriving, her worst fears are realized - everybody already writes her off as another mom who they'll have to schedule around and who'll always have some emergency with her kid. Making matters worse, her boss Harold (Kurt Fuller, more or less reprising his "Big Day" role) has added his clueless, unfortunately-colored-shirt-wearing nephew (Stephen Rannazzisi, also more or less reprising his "Big Day" role) and her old flame (Oliver Milburn) - that turned out to be married and may or may not be the father of Jayne's baby - to help handle a big client (a slumming Tony Hale). Also thrown into the mix - the hapless Neil (Jarrad Paul), who seems to always walk in at the wrong time; Jayne's underqualified babysitter Jessica (Ava Gaudet), who'd rather be clubbing than watching kids; her best friend (Nicole Sullivan), who traded her job with Jayne's firm for the mommy life; and her assistant Regina (Anna Hopkins), who's defining quality is she had pictures of Katie and Suri put on her nails. Sure enough, Jayne finds herself balancing plate after plate with emergencies at home and at work. Will she be able to stay afloat? Will her breasts leak at the most inopportune time? Will she come through at the final minute for no other reason than the pilot dictates she has to? You can fill in the blanks from here.
What works: For a show that spends a lot of time talking about the cliches of moms returning to work...
What doesn't: ...it ironically turns out to be that very cliche. Every character, plot point and piece of dialogue you can see coming from a mile away. Baby emergency during "the big client meeting." Check. Breasts leaking. Check. Hiding the baby at work only to get discovered by the boss. Check. Finding some out of left field way to land the big client because the new mom knows something other non-moms don't. Check. If you could make a list of the 10 most obvious things to happen in a show about a mom returning to work, they're all here - even a few you might have forgotten about. Heather Locklear, for all her trademarked likeability, is given little to do here beyond walking through cliched-filled minefield of a script while the supporting cast proves to be the caricatures you've undoubtedly imagined. Even worse is that despite the above, there's no attempt to say something new or put a new spin to it. It's just... what you'd expect.
The bottom line: Considering you've already seen this show in some form or another, you're not missing much.