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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2010-2011 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
WRIGHT VS. WRONG (ABC)
(written by Stephanie Weir; directed by Andy Fickman; TRT: 22:40)
The network's description: "The problem with being a public figure is that it can be pretty hard to have a good private life. Especially when you're Evelyn Wright, a conservative pundit who happens to be one of the most polarizing figures in America. Wright is a rising star in the right-wing political arena. She's intelligent, confident, beautiful, and of course, Christian. That's all great, but her personal life leaves something to be desired. Evelyn has Baker, her amazing fianc, but she realizes she doesn't have any close female friends to be her bridesmaids. Oh sure, there's Crystal, her personal assistant who doubles as Evelyn's punching bag. Or maybe Joan, Evelyn's no-nonsense manager who's busy pushing Evelyn's new book, Democrap.
She does have Adrian, her liberal-minded ghostwriter, but he's a guy and everyone knows he's just killing time until he can score a job at The Daily Show. Pretty much the only people who hang out with Evelyn, besides her fianc, are the ones who are paid to be there. Sadly, the only woman she really relates to is Keri Daly, her liberal counterpart and sparring partner. Everyone knows Evelyn's a brilliant strategist, but can Wright ever get her personal life right? Written by Stephanie Weir (Mad TV), Andy Fickman directs and is one of the executive producers of this single camera comedy along with Debra Messing, Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development), and Betsy Thomas (My Boys). Wright Vs. Wrong is the workplace comedy that shows that even the toughest and most opinionated public figures are privately just as insecure as the rest of us."
What did they leave out? That's more or less it.
The plot in a nutshell: "Dear Heavenly Father, I pray you will help me be articulate, gracious and compassionate on 'Hot Button' tonight," conservative pundit Evelyn Wright (Debra Messing), quietly prays to herself, her blinged out cross hanging from her neck. "And my ego will not get in the way of spreading your good word. In Jesus's name. Amen." You see, a solid performance on the aforementioned "Crossfire" meets "SportsCenter"-esque program (hosted by a surprisingly low-key John Michael Higgins) would give her some credibility amongst the younger, hipper audience. More pressing however is the fact she hasn't found any bridesmaids for her upcoming nuptials to Baker (David Sutcliffe), an airline pilot whom she's been perpetually engaged to for the past eight years.
It seems despite her successful career and love life, she never found time to have any friends, let alone female ones. Plus she refuses to ask any of her staff - bubbly assistant Daisy (Melissa Rauch), gossipy stylist Gail (Tisha Campbell-Martin) and gruff manager Joan (Carrie Fisher). So left with no other choices, she reaches out to Keri Daly (Cheryl Hines), her liberal counterpart on the show/author of "Iwreck." Keri's beloved by the media and more importantly, seems to always have friends around. Evelyn of course completely drops the ball and winds up personally insulting her on the air. It's a move that winds up raising her media profile, but ultimately - even after a mea culpa on Evelyn's part - at the cost of a potential friendship with Keri. But hey, becoming the number one author in America is a nice consolation prize.
What works: Patrick Fugit's turn as Adrian, a blue blood Democrat who could only find work writing for Evelyn, has its moments (Evelyn: "Are these funny?" Adrian: "I feel dead inside." Evelyn: "Perfect.") but...
What doesn't: ...it's ultimately a collection of boilerplate partisan jokes (Evelyn: "Cycles of climate change date back to the ice age and it wasn't because the wooly mammoth didn't recycle."; Evelyn: "Al Gore invented global warming because he needed a hobby after he couldn't steal the election.") wrapped around a roughshod character piece. Evelyn Wright never feels like an actual person but rather a collage of conservative political personalities (it's the love child of Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin!) with the throughline being she really just wants to be loved, by the media and the people.
So a show about an unapologetically selfish person who craves attention mixed with jokes that either don't make sense (Gail: "Don't worry, I can get you some bridesmaid dresses. I used to work on 'Big Love,' they had a million of them."), are eye-rollingly obvious (she keeps the heads of dead animals in her office! she puts a best-seller sticker on her book even when it isn't! "fans" ask her to sign her book and then light it on fire! Evelyn's books are titled "F-liberals" and "Democrap!") or a mix of the two (Joan: "Anderson Cooper is calling you the Whore of Babel-On."). Throw in some unnecessary scene bumpers featuring quotes from famous people (Oscar Wilde: "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.") and that's pretty much it. At the end of the day, I'm all for political comedies - hell, it seems like we're due for one that can capture the current zeitgeist - one just...
The bottom line: ...hopes they'll remember to be funny next time.