TV is all about recycling what ever worked before. So it was inevitable that someone would take a stab at replicating Sex And The City's successful formula.
Unfortunately, what was fresh, funny and provocative the first time around now seems as tired as Carrie's vanity necklace. Endless reruns only serve to emphasize the cosmo-swilling gal pals' essential shallowness, making it Cristal clear that only Cattrall's slutty Samantha showed any sign of emotional growth. The moment Smith Jared shaved his head in solidarity with her cancer-related hair loss was the turning point in how Samantha saw herself and men, and how we saw her.
Now, Men In Trees and My Boys are following in SATC's fashionable footsteps. Both feature hot, single 30-something women, both of whom play writers who unfortunately resort to occasional voice-over narration (mercifully without Carrie Bradshaw's ridiculous punmanship).
Men In Trees stars tabloid kook Anne Heche as the frosty Marin Frist, a jilted relationship expert whose book tour delivers a karmic drop kick, spinning her out of her idyllic Big Apple lifestyle into a testosterone-rich Alaska right out of Northern Exposure.
Of course, among the colourful local yokels she finds her Mr. Big - a stubbly wildlife expert with a broken heart (James Tupper) - and realizes she doesn't know as much about relationships as she thought.
The basic premise - sophisticated woman rubs (the right and wrong way) against a rough-hewn man - dates at least as far back as original man in tree Tarzan, and it has the feel of a Sandra Bullock rom-com or a fantasy episode of Sex And The City. (Not surprisingly, Men In Trees creator Jenny Bicks wrote the Sex episode where Carrie teaches dating to desperate women only to discover she doesn't know what she's talking about.)
And the show indulges in a few too many fish-out-of-water contrivances (Marin's ongoing battle with a raccoon, her coping without soy lattes and spinning classes), most of which land like a Manolo Blahnik in a mud puddle.
Fortunately, Heche has a gift for screwball romantic comedy, something easily lost sight of after she switched teams a couple of times and spoke in tongues. She's a bit brittle, perhaps, drawing her warmth from the cast around her, much as Katharine Hepburn did, but she sells her ludicrous situation with an unselfconscious charm. And her instability (both on screen and off) makes her a bit of a live wire whose sex appeal is inextricable from her unpredictability.
Over on the less rom-com-formulaic My Boys, fresh-faced Jordana Spiro is P. J. Franklin, a tomboyish Chicago sports writer - her voice-overs consist of baseball analogies - who sorts through her relationship woes with the help of her beer-swilling, poker-playing, chick-chasing best buds.
While her status as "one of the guys" is a romantic liability, she possesses a natural warmth and affectionate rapport with men that Carrie Bradshaw never had.
The result is that rare quiet sitcom. It doesn't focus too much attention on setups and punchlines or have a laugh track elbowing you in the ribs. Instead, it trades on low-key charm and humour that's never so smart or spot-on as to feel scripted.
Now, if they would just lose the cloying voice-overs.
What to watch this week
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16
SMALL PLACES, SMALL HOMES World premiere of Hindi doc about visible minority immigrants in rural Canada.
8 pm on OMNI 2
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 17
THE LEGEND OF THE SCARECROWAnimated short about a lonely scarecrow tops the channel's Spanish spotlight.
9 pm on Movieola