THE BEST YEARS created by Aaron Martin, with Charity Shea, Jennifer Miller, Brandon Jay McLaren and Athena Karkanis. Tuesday (May 22), 10 pm, on Global. Rating: N Rating: N
I had high hopes (Okay, I had one measly middling hope) that this series would be good, since it was created by one of the brains behind Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Unfortunately, what Aaron Martin delivers in the first episode (I couldn't watch the other two Global sent me; the toilet won't scrub itself, ya know) is Degrassi: The Next Degeneration.
While Degrassi has been dealing with some pretty topical teen issues - sex, drugs, street racing, strip clubs - The Best Years tries to convince us that a college student's inability to afford her dorm meal plan is the stuff of good drama. I'm surprised David Mamet hasn't thought of it.
Set at a fictional Boston university played by the University of Guelph in the show's most convincing performance, this charmless, witless rehash of Felicity and the latter, college years of Dawson's Creek stars newcomer Charity Shea as Felicity Porter... no, Joey Potter... no, Samantha Best (hence the oh-so-clever title).
Sam's a poor orphan with good grades and good intentions who struggles to fit in with her Ivy League schoolmates. She's also supposed to be from Southie, even though she sounds nuttin' like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck did in Good Will Hunting. (Then again, the show's idea of a foreign student is a white guy from Canada wearing a tartan cap.)
Sam's roommate is a social-climbing beauty queen - imagine a young Loni Anderson or Lisa Whelchel (Blair on The Facts Of Life) - who can't decide whether she's a misunderstood small-town girl with big dreams or just a bitch. And she's not the only one with a split personality. There's the sweet-when-she's-not-mean-or-drunk ex-child-star-turned-student, and Sam herself swings from goody two-shoes to backstabbing party girl.
Even the accidental death of the show's requisite fat, funny friend - the result of a drunken tumble off the dorm roof - isn't enough to keep Sam and the gang from trucking their guilt to the clubs a few hours later.
Granted, the death did provide the show's single memorable moment - it turns out the tree next to which the body was found is the one my friend's bike was chained to when it was stolen when she was in college.
24's in trouble
24 created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, with Kiefer Sutherland, Ricky Schroder, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Powers Boothe. Monday (May 21), 8 pm, on Global and Fox. Rating: NN
Has Jack Bauer jumped the shark? It pains me like an electric cattle prod to my happy bits to say it, but the last three or four hours of 24 have been painful to watch. And not in a torturing-terrorist-suspects-to-save-the-world kind of way.
Quick out of the gate - suitcase nukes, Jack released from Chinese prison, Jack killing fellow agent Curtis Manning, Jack's bad dad killing Jack's bad brother - the series has tripped over its own increasingly ridiculous plot twists down the stretch.
How many times can President Palmer 2 go into and come out of a coma? How many times can CTU be the target of terrorists? For that matter, why does CTU have worse security than a hot dog cart? And who's in charge of screening new employees? Given how often moles infiltrate CTU, they should fire their human resources manager.
Sure, there have been a few terrific "holy shit!" moments as the clock ticks down - the sudden appearance of Jack's assumed-dead girlfriend, Audrey, in the hands of the Chinese creep who also once held Jack captive; Milo getting capped in the middle of CTU HQ - but none of them have paid off in terms of propelling the plot.
To paraphrase Woody Allen, 24 is like a shark - it needs to keep moving forward or it dies. And what we have here is a dead shark.
What to watch this week
Tuesday, May 22
On the Lot (Reality) Three Canadians are among the Spielberg wannabes in this Hollywood-based reality series from Survivor creator Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg. Celeb judges for the first episode include actor Carrie Fisher and directors Brett Ratner, Garry Marshall and Jon Avnet. 9 pm on CTV