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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: THE HOT YEARS (FOX)
(pilot not ordered to series)
The network's description: "Britney. Paris. Lindsay. When these are your role models, how does any girl ever learn how to grow up? Or cover up, for that matter? This is an envelope-pushing comedy about four twenty-somethings, living in the age of text messaging and Internet hookups, who have more interest in great clothes and great parties than in meaningful relationships and fulfilling careers. But when you live to party, at some point you're going to wake up with a hangover. Harsh reality dawns on publishing assistant ALLISON MILLER (Molly Stanton, "Twins") when her boss catches her in a state of undress after a hot copy-room tryst. Allison wants to be taken seriously at work, but that means changing everything, including her home life. And it won't be easy. Allison and her two roommates and best friends, STEVIE PITTS (Lacey Chabert, "Family Guy," "Party of Five") and KATE DELLAPINA (Dorian Brown), are living in an apartment that might as well be their old sorority house. Stevie is a Park Avenue nanny who wants to end up a trophy wife with gorgeous kids, while Kate, a full-time trust-fund baby and part-time sales girl at an upscale department store, is perfectly happy stealing free samples and flirting with married guys. If Allison is serious about growing up, she's going to need outside help. Help arrives in the form of Allison's overachieving Indian co-worker, RUPA KUMAR (Sarayu Rao, "Leela"). While Allison thinks Rupa can teach the girls how to be smart, professional women, Rupa's more interested in learning how to get out of her turtlenecks and into some trouble. As it turns out, there's a lot they can learn from each other. And if one of them is going to grow up, they're all going to do it, because no one should have to face the real world alone. From 20th Century Fox Television and Dawn Parouse Productions, THE HOT YEARS is created by playwright Elizabeth Meriwether and executive-produced by Dawn Parouse ("Prison Break." "Tru Calling") and Jeffrey Richman ("Wings," "Frasier")."
What did they leave out: You're going to learn a new phrase for what Rupa calls "the male parts."
The plot in a nutshell: "There are my hot years," party girl Kate (Dorian Brown) explains at one point. "Why should I waste them worrying about a job or a boyfriend?" Said query comes after her best friend Allison (Molly Stanton) decides they - along with fellow roommate Stevie (Lacey Chabert) - need to stop living like they're still in college... even though they never went to college. Allison comes to this decision after learning her boss (Tia Carrere) has turned over editing their hot new project - Lindsay Lohan's unauthorized biography - to wallflower Rupa (Sarayu Rao). It seems she's none too thrilled with Allison's frequent copy room shenanigans or the fact she forgot to button her top after the latest one. Her fellow "whores" - their favorite term of endearment - however prove to be harder sells. Kate says she's happy spending her days as a part-time perfume spritzer at the mall and her nights with her latest tryst, such as "crying married guy." Stevie likewise feels content with her day job as an inattentive nanny and her nights responding to her four-years-and-counting booty call's (Brandon Quinn) texts. Nevertheless, all three become jointly inspired by the shrinking violet that is Rupa. Allison wants to learn how to be "really complicated" like her while Kate and Stevie just want to get her some of "the D" after her multi-year dry spell. Allison also takes it upon herself to try and turn her latest hook-up (Robert Hoffman) into a boyfriend, all the while ignoring what could be her real connection (Nick Gonzalez). In the end, Allison winds up getting a little respect at work, and more importantly a lot of respect for herself.
What works: Despite its one joke premise, the girls - Stanton, Chabert, Brown and Rao - prove to be a lot of fun, as does Elizabeth Meriwether's knowing script which somehow manages to both celebrate and denounce the "Lindsay Lohan"-esque lifestyle. Amusingly, the girls aren't actually ditsy, they're just unmotivated and lazy, a mindset that's propagated by the fact everything literally goes to slow motion when they enter a club. At the same time, they also can't stop calling each other whores, trolling for "the D" or give up their sweatpants with the word "SLUT" branded across them. Said dichotomy gives the show a surprisingly witty edge, albeit one you have to look for a little.
What doesn't: Working against that edge then is the fact that it's still very much a one joke show and there are plenty of lead balloons to go around, such as when Stevie's boyfriend remarks that "401Ks are what ugly girls have" or when after falling asleep in her lap, she notes that "that's the only time he goes down there." Furthermore, you don't need to be Nostradamus or have a time machine to be able to predict there will be a "dance off" sequence - complete with "the worm" as the finishing move - or the aforementioned sweat pants will be traded in for an "I RESPECT MYSELF" sweatshirt or Allison's boss will turn out to be an ex "whore" herself. In the end, the show ends up being the one you expect, albeit one you hope will turn into something great.
The bottom line: Fun with the potential of becoming great.