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So you've seen all of the new shows this fall - but what about the ones that didn't make the cut? For the next 30 days we're going to take a "first look" at a collection of 30 pilots that didn't land on the 2009-10 season schedule. Are there any gems that got passed over or are they all deservedly locked in the networks' vaults? Stay tuned.
ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS (FOX)
(written by Christine Zander; directed by James Burrows; TRT: 21:07)
What is it? A multi-camera comedy based on the famed BBC series of the same name starring Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley.
Who was behind it?: Christine Zander ("Nurse Jackie") penned the half-hour which was directed by sitcom veteran James Burrows. Mitch Hurwitz, Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum also executive produced via their Tantamount banner.
The plot in a nutshell: Best friends/publicists Patsy ("3rd Rock from the Sun's" Kristen Johnston) and Eddie ("Crossing Jordan's" Kathryn Hahn) have a problem. (Well, a problem besides their narcissistic personalities and smoking/drinking addictions.) They've fallen off Vuve's list of the most influential women in Los Angeles. More importantly, Eddie's charity-minded daughter Saffron (Zosia Mamet) has lost all faith in her - Eddie being hopelessly selfish and shallow and all. She however has a plan to win her back - Eddie: "We need to make some serious changes." Patsy: "Chandelier earrings?" Eddie: "No honey I'm talking something more spiritual." Patsy: "Chunky necklace?" Eddie: "I can't believe you are not on that list." - use a lackluster Italian restaurant opening (in Calabasas no less, the horror!) to raise money for Saffron's favorite cause, Darfur. This of course goes as well as can be expected as no big names show up for the party and Patsy pepper sprays a cop who tries to take her cigarette. Thankfully their less than glamorous arrest ("Hey do you think they'll do a cavity search? Patsy wonders) makes the rounds on the internet, vaulting them back in the publicity game. And while the people of Darfur didn't get any help, Saffron at least appreciates her mom making the effort. Now if Patsy and Eddie can just make it to noon without needing a drink.
What works: I can't say I was the hugest fan of the original series but even setting that aside...
What doesn't: ...wow is this a loud, grating mess. Everything is broad and overstated as there's nothing Patsy and Eddie won't say or do that doesn't have an eye-rolling exclamation point after it. Whether it be wondering if they can sell the water in Darfur that gives you dysentery as a diet remedy, asking if they can go to Darfur for a few weeks as a cleanse or likening the experience of having their limo stall in Calabasas to actually being trapped in Darfur, the central joke that these are two awful, awful people gets old very, very quickly. And if cringe-inducing humor about starving people in Africa isn't enough, there's awkward racial jokes - Patsy asks if Eddie's new intern Novelette (Toni Trucks) is from the hood; drinking jokes - "It might be bargain wine but by the second box it's terrific," Patsy notes; smoking jokes - Saffron, trying to help her mom stop smoking: "Why don't you try a nice herbal tea?" Eddie: "I tried that honey. It doesn't stay lit."; and eating jokes - Patsy is proudly "thin obese," meaning she's thin but doesn't have an ounce of muscle on her; all of which are painfully low-minded. All in all, the show feels like a weak sketch that would run after 12:30 AM on "Saturday Night Live"...
The bottom line: ...and unfortunately this one is 21 minutes long.