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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.
EVA ADAMS (FOX)
(written by Kevin Falls; directed by Mark Waters; TRT: 43:12)
What is it? A drama about a sports agent who, possibly as punishment for his womanizing ways, is transformed into a woman.
Who was behind it?: "Journeyman" creator Kevin Falls wrote the pilot script, which was based on the Argentinean format "Lalola." Feature helmer Mark Waters ("Mean Girls") directed.
The plot in a nutshell: "This is the story of a man who got turned into a woman," explains Adam Evanston ("Arrested Development's" Will Arnett). "Unfortunately, that man was me. Some women, okay hundreds, argue that I had it coming. All I know is there's never a good day for a man to lose his penis." And with that our tale begins: Adam is the top earner at sports agency Sharpe Management, not to mention an unapologetic womanizer. Or should I say used to be in the former case as his boss Brian ("The Practice's" Steve Harris) informs him Connor Stikes ("Dawson's Creek's" James Van Der Beek), Adam's best friend/fellow hound, now holds that honor. And so when word gets out that Cy Young winner Gavin Miles ("Moonlight's" Brian White) is coming to see fellow agent Paul Byrne ("The Office's" David Denman), Adam does everything in his power to worm his way into the meeting. Helping matters is that Paul is something of a sad sack divorcee who routinely sweats through his shirts, allowing Adam to swoop in and give a convincing pitch.
While out celebrating their success, Adam runs into Sofia ("Journeyman's" Moon Bloodgood), one of Sharpe's new assistants, who suggests a more intimate kind of celebration. Adam however realizes he's late for his original plans for the evening: a birthday celebration with his only gal pal/childhood friend/neighbor Grace ("'Til Death's" Kat Foster). He nevertheless follows through with Sofia and arrives at Grace's late with hat, or cake rather, in hand. She's not surprisingly annoyed at Adam's antics, not to mention his stance of the fairer sex ("Until women can nut up and actually act like a man, can they really be considered equal in mind, spirit and body and not just by law?"). Before she can get too mad though Adam falls asleep on her couch.
The following morning - after a quasi-werewolf transformation that evening - Adam inexplicably wakes up as a woman ("The Starter Wife's" Rhea Seehorn). Understandably confused, Adam tries to seek help from Grace, who assumes he/she's one of Adam's crazy one night stands. Fearing he/she is indeed crazy, Adam seeks out Christa (Virginia Williams), his psychologist ex, for answers. Unfortunately all she can confirm is Adam can still achieve "phantom wood." In the meantime, Gavin keeps calling for Adam, forcing him to pretend he's Eva Adams, Adam's new assistant. Said trickery won't last for long however: he needs a plan. Thankfully, a second confrontation with Grace manages to convince her of his predicament (using the old "only X would know Y" trick) and Adam/Eva has him/herself a tutor in the ways of being a woman.
His idea: tell everyone that Adam is in rehab but Eva has been given his plan on how to close Gavin. Brian however is skeptical and turns things over to the all-too-eager Connor. It turns out - gasp! - Connor's even more of a douche than Adam was. And when Eva tries to undercut Connor's efforts, she gets herself fired by Brian. He/she however won't go quietly as there's one other option: help Paul land Gavin first. And luckily enough for him, Adam/Eva's learned a few things about women that can aid in their quest. Sure enough, Eva and Paul manage to do just that and Eva gets her job back. More importantly: there just might be a soul inside Adam, even if it took him becoming a woman to find it.
What works: Maybe it's just me but...
What doesn't: ...doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose of making a show about teaching a cliched sexist guy lessons about women by showing him women are... cliches themselves? All the old classics are here: they pine for the bad boys that don't notice them, they talk about men's "shortcomings" behind closed doors, they can't control their emotions, the list goes on. Even worse, Adam's transition into Eva is treated like he's inhabiting the body of an alien or wearing a Halloween costume that's too small. As Eva, Adam can barely walk, get dressed or comb her hair. It's all symptomatic of the show's painfully broad tone as any and all emotions last about as long as one of its countless Top 40 needle drops.
Then there's odd developments like we're never told how or even really why Adam got turned into Eva, other than no one seems to remember Sofia, who's nowhere to be found. In terms of the cast, Arnett (who one assumes would have continued to serve as narrator) seems surprisingly neutered as compared to the smarmy characters he usually plays: he and Connor send texts about how hot the sexual harassment lady is, the bastard!; Adam tells co-worker Vicki (Alex Borstein) to buzz off after she asks if any of his clients can come to the company's charity fashion show, the jerk! As for Seehorn, she plays Eva like a newborn giraffe and none of her mannerisms or speaking style seem to match up with Arnett's. It's all "holy crap I have boobs!" kind of stuff as there's no real time given to nuance or character development. In fact the only one who isn't written/played as a cartoon is Foster's Grace, and she's unfortunately burdened with having to sell that she's been in love with Adam all these years. All in all...
The bottom line: ...I can't say you're missing much here.