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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2011-2012 season, now in its sixth year! 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.]
2 BROKE GIRLS (CBS)
(written by Michael Patrick King & Whitney Cummings; directed by James Burrows; TRT: 22:28)
The network's description: "2 BROKE GIRLS is a comedy about two young women waitressing at a greasy spoon diner who strike up an unlikely friendship in the hopes of launching a successful business - if only they can raise the cash. Sassy, streetwise Max (Kat Dennings) works two jobs just to get by, one of which is waiting tables during the night shift at the retro-hip Williamsburg Diner. Sophisticated Caroline (Beth Behrs) is an uptown trust fund princess who's having a run of bad luck that forces her to reluctantly give waitressing a shot. At first, Max sees Caroline as yet another in a long line of inept servers she must cover for, but she's surprised to find that Caroline has as much substance as she does style. When Caroline discovers Max's knack for baking amazing cupcakes, she sees a lucrative future for them, but they first need to raise the start-up money. While they save their tips, they'll stay at the restaurant, working with Oleg (Jonathan Kite), an overly flirtatious Russian cook; Earl (Garrett Morris), a 75-year-old kool-kat cashier; and Han Lee (Matthew Moy), the new, eager-to-please owner of the diner. Working together, these two broke girls living in one expensive city might just find the perfect recipe for their big break. Michael Patrick King ("Sex and the City") and writer-comedian Whitney Cummings ("Chelsea Lately") are executive producers for Warner Bros. Television."
What did they leave out? That about covers it.
The plot in a nutshell: Welcome to the Williamsburg Diner. Formerly a haven to Eastern Bloc criminals and crack whores, it's now just your standard greasy spoon. Keeping it all going is Max (Kat Dennings), the resident waitress/reluctant mother hen. And as much as she'd like to have it all to herself - and the extra money attached - her boss Bryce Lee (Matthew Moy; recently changed from Han Lee, "I guess he wants people to take him even less seriously," she notes) has hired a new waitress Caroline (Beth Behrs) - who claims to have tons of experience - to help out. She's fastidious and fancy, sunny and smiling, all the things Max is not ("Whatever that is, it does not belong in this diner," Max quips. "It belongs in a show on Bravo.").
And so Max reluctantly shows Caroline the ropes, introducing her to harmlessly creepy cook Oleg (Jonathan Kite; "He doesn't realize he looks like that and I don't have the heart to tell him.") and loveably crotchety cashier Earl (Garret Morris; "Do not talk to him unless you want to feel whiter than you already are."). Caroline however is far from the experienced server she claims to be. It turns out she's the daughter of a Bernie Madoff-esque criminal, used to having everything and now exiled to Brooklyn where she has nothing.
So in addition to a new co-worker, Max finds she's reluctantly getting a new roommate as well. Wharton-educated Caroline however isn't without her uses as she exposes the inherent douchery of Max's boyfriend (Noah Mills) and successfully ups the price of Max's homemade cupcakes at the diner. Hell, she may even be able to turn said cupcakes into a profitable business. So while they both may be broke for now, they - gulp - at least have each other.
What works: Dennings and Behrs are a lot of fun as a sugar and spice team, dolling out insults and giving each other their comeuppance at every turn. It's a sitcom that - gasp! - actually seems to be enjoying itself, creating a relaxed charm to the proceedings. Helping things along are some sharp callbacks and blows, a wonderful set that feels like it's from a different era, plus the sense that it's never above a silly couplet or triplet for the sake of it. Other fun bits involve Max's second job as a nanny to an amusingly self-centered mom (Brooke Lyons) and random pop culture references like Temple Grandin and "One Tree Hill." All in all, if any of the above tickles your fancy, there's plenty more where that came from.
What doesn't: Only that to some extent by default...
The bottom line: ...it's probably the best of the multi-camera pilots that got picked up.