[07/25/05 - 12:00 AM]
The Futon's First Look: "Hot Properties" (ABC)
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:

(Fridays at 9:30/8:30c this fall)

The network's description: "In a Manhattan real estate office, four very different women cater to high-end clients while coping with their own personal predicaments. Married to a handsome 25-year-old, fortysomething Ava Summerlin wants to start a family, while self-improvement junkie Chloe would settle for any guy who can remember her the next day. Recently divorced, after being married ten years to a gay man, voluptuous Lola dreads jumping back into the dating pool, and the latest addition to this eclectic work group is rich girl Emerson Ives, who instantly bonds with the women upon learning that her supposedly virginal fianc� was anything but. And the ladies' office neighbors from down the hall, therapist Dr. Sellers Boyd and plastic surgeon Dr. Charlie Thorpe, help keep things lively around the water cooler. In the tradition of �Designing Women,� �Golden Girls� and �Sex and the City� comes an uninhibited comedy with real career women trying to have real relationships. One of the Emmy Award-winning producers of the mega-hit �Frasier� reveals just how exciting the world of New York real estate can be."

What did they leave out: The character of Emerson, played by Audra Blaser in the original pilot, is being replaced by Christina Moore ("That '70s Show"). The version I saw featured Blaser.

The plot in a nutshell: Three women - Ava (Gail O'Grady), Chloe (Nicole Sullivan) and Lola (Sofia Vergara) - are partners in a high-end real estate office in Manhattan. But their problems often go far beyond expensive condos: Ava recently married a man nearly 15 years her junior ("North Shore's" Jay Kenneth Johnson) and is working to start a family, Lola has just ended her 10 year marriage to her newly out of the closet husband and loathes re-entering the dating pool, and Chloe is well, desperate for any man to stay in her life at all. Also orbiting the gals lives are therapist Dr. Sellers Boyd (Evan Handler) and plastic surgeon Dr. Charlie Thorpe (Stephen Dunham), whom they share office space with. As the pilot opens, the girls' newest client is Emerson Ives (Audra Blaser), a rich girl who is looking for a place her and her fianc� can share after they get married. But in one of those "only on TV" problems, it seems both Ava and Chloe have slept with her fianc�, whom she thought like her was a virgin. Do they keep quiet and score a big sale? Or do they come clean and potentially gain a new friend in the process? As if I have to tell you.

What works: Well, there's... um, sometimes, it's... ah, who am I kidding.

What doesn't: I don't even know where to begin. Sure, sitcoms (and TV in general) demand a suspension of disbelief. But really - their newest client just has to be somebody that not one, but two of the girls slept with before? And this is funny? Is there a wall I can beat my head against nearby? What's worse is that it's all played out against the tired backdrop of "oh, isn't it hilarious I've slept with hundreds of guys." This show beats that concept to death, buries it, digs it back up, beats its dead corpse up some more and buries it again. "Sex and the City" wasn't even this sex obsessed. So if warn-out jokes about younger guys being better in bed, forthysomething women lying about their age, etc. do it for you, you'll be right at home here. Anyway, the proceedings just play out in a tired "is the laugh track really loud or is just me?" sort of way bad sitcoms do. Personally I'm just glad it's over.

The challenges ahead: Is this really the best lead-out for "Hope & Faith?" Can I get the past 22 or so minutes of my life back? We'll know the answer to unfortunately only one of those questions this fall on ABC.

  [july 2005]  


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