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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:
MISCONCEPTIONS (The WB)
(TBA at midseason)
The network's description: "Amanda Watson (Jane Leeves, �Frasier") was more than a little shocked to find out that all her teenage daughter Hopper (Taylor Momsen, �Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams") wanted for her birthday was to meet her biological father. After all, Hopper has always heard that her dad is well-bred, handsome, athletic, well-educated and a successful doctor. The only problem is Amanda never actually met him, she only knows him from the profile she was given at the Ivy League sperm bank. After discussing the situation with Horace (French Stewart, "3rd Rock From the Sun"), her best friend and co-worker at an art museum in Chicago, Amanda decides it's time to track down the father of her child and is mortified to discover that her supposedly ideal donor was not the Olympic medalist, Yale-educated surgeon that she has imagined all these years. Meet Eddie Caprio (Adam Rothenberg, �Coyote Beach"), a man who needed a little cash after junior college and lied about his identity. Eddie has a certain undeniable charm, yet he's too scattered and immature for Amanda's taste. He can't hold a job, he prefers beer to fine wine, and his idea of dressing up is wearing a clean baseball cap. In Amanda's eyes, Eddie is barely capable of taking care of himself, let alone Hopper. However, when Eddie tracks her down, Hopper falls head-over-heels for her fun-loving dad, and Amanda is forced to allow him to be part of their lives. Could Eddie's appeal be getting through to Amanda, too? Apparently, they're going to have plenty of time to find out."
What did they leave out: That it's in the running to be the worst comedy pilot this season.
The plot in a nutshell: Chicago-based teen Hopper (Taylor Momsen) wants just one thing for her birthday: for her single, museum-working mom Amanda (Jane Leeves) to let her meet her biological father. Not thrilled by the prospect, Amanda nevertheless decides to look up her sperm donor. To her surprise (but not the audience's), Eddie (Adam Rothenberg) isn't an Olympic medalist, a Yale-grad or a surgeon as she was told, in fact he's just your average, woman-chasing, beer-swilling TV character. Not helping matters: he thinks Amanda is a hooker his friends sent over. Ouch. Even worse, she learns he donated his sperm on a dare from one of his friends (whose general idea of a good time is rubbing their crotch against household items unbeknownst to their owner). Horrified, she storms off, hoping she'll never see him again. But as all woman-chasing, beer-swilling TV characters who find out they fathered a child anonymously do, he nevertheless gets curious about his daughter and quickly learns she's a lot like him (which means in TV terms she likes the Cubs too). Eventually Eddie and Amanda reach a truce and their worlds now become interwoven. Oh and somewhere in there are French Stewart and David Anthony Higgins as Amanda and Eddie's best friends respectively.
What works: That we might have a winner in our unofficial "worst comedy pilot" contest.
What doesn't: Like fellow midseason WB prospect "Modern Men," "Misconceptions" feels like a bad early-1990s FOX sitcom magically transported to present day - all of its crapiness fully intact. I just can't get over how lamely telegraphed and painful the "comedy" is in this show. There's just no attempt to dull the edges on the caricatures that inhabit the show: Amanda is cold and haughty, Eddie is a slob and womanizer, oh wait until their worlds collide! She works in a museum! He doesn't shave! She is proper! He is a pig! It's just as bad as you can imagine, and then some. And really folks, can we get a Chicago-based sitcom whose idea of "local color" isn't just that one of the characters likes the Cubs?
The challenges ahead: Will all TVs implode once "Modern Men" and "Misconceptions" both inhabit the airwaves? Is there anything we can do to stop it? We'll see sometime next year on The WB.