[07/08/05 - 12:00 AM]
The Futon's First Look: "Related" (The WB)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

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:

(Wednesdays at 10:00/9:00c this fall)

The network's description: "The four Sorelli sisters are a bundle of contradictions. These quirky young women are best friends one minute and bitter enemies the next. They confide in one another, yet manage to keep a lot of secrets. They worry about each other, give advice and push each other's buttons. First-born sister Ann (Kiele Sanchez) is a 33-year-old legal aid lawyer and the nurturing mother hen of the group. Ann works out of a run-down office, helping people who have no voice, while her closest sibling, Ginnie (Jennifer Esposito, �Crash� �Spin City�), also an attorney, spends her days in a high-powered law firm working for huge corporations. While Ann worries about her long-time relationship with chef and restaurant-owner Danny (Jon Hamm, �The Division� �Kissing Jessica Stein�), Ginnie is trying to figure out how to tell her husband Bob (Callum Blue, �Dead Like Me� �The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement�), her bosses and her family that she is pregnant. Next in line is 23-year-old Marjee (Lizzy Caplan, �Mean Girls�), a special events coordinator who stresses out over her demanding celebrity clients while secretly yearning for respect and approval from her older sisters. The youngest sister, Rose (Laura Breckenridge, �Boston Public�), is a 19-year-old college student who just switched her major from pre-med to experimental theater and is afraid to deliver this news to her over-achieving family. A comedic ensemble drama, �Related� is a poignant reminder that family is what life is all about."

What did they leave out: As you've probably heard, the original pilot featured Laura San Giacomo in the role of Ann. Only that version was available at the time of this writing.

The plot in a nutshell: We've introduced to the four Sorelli sisters, the lives of whom are shaken up by recent events: there's the aforementioned Ann, the eldest, who's informed by her longtime boyfriend Danny (Jon Hamm) he's breaking up with her; lawyer Ginnie (Jennifer Esposito), who recently learned she's pregnant; special events coordinator Marjee (Lizzy Caplan), who is stressing over planning a charity benefit for Jillian Barberie (who appears as herself); and Rose (Laura Breckenridge), the youngest, who decides to switch majors from pre-med to experimental theater. All of these problems play out against the backdrop of planning their father's engagement party to his girlfriend.

What works: Well... how about... I'm at a loss here.

What doesn't: I guess the biggest surprise is that for a "comedic ensemble drama," there's nothing funny about it at all. We're talking crickets chirping not funny. All the events just play out in a vaguely "Ally McBeal"-esque fashion, minus the Vonda Sheperd soundtrack, but it just falls flat. The opening act is particularly painful as the sisters attempt what they describe as a "phone chain" with the idea being (brace for laughs here) one sister calls another sister tells her to do everything, who in turn calls another sister to tell her to do everything, etc. Even worse is that the characters all come across as pouty and self-absorbed - "oh no, I'm pregnant with my husband! the horror, the horror!" - and for supposedly close sisters it's pretty sad they can't figure out the solution to all their problems is to just tell each other what's going on. There's just no incentive to watch here.

The challenges ahead: Is this really the kind of show "One Tree Hill" fans are going to stick around for on Wednesday nights? And if they do are they going to latch on to such uninteresting characters? We'll know for sure this fall on the WB.

  [july 2005]  


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