TV review

New sitcom 'Bad Teacher' fails to make the grade

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The 2011 film "Bad Teacher" gets a single-camera sitcom makeover courtesy of CBS, moving into the 9:30 p.m. Thursday time slot vacated by "The Crazy Ones," which ended its first season and awaits word on its fate.

"Bad Teacher" relies on a one-joke premise that's funny enough in the premiere but seems like it will wear poorly over time.

'Bad Teacher'
When: 9:30 tonight on CBS.

Trophy wife Meredith Davis (Ari Graynor) loses her fortune in a divorce and resorts to scoping out divorced dads by scamming her way into a teaching job at Richard Nixon Middle School. She's self-absorbed and interested only in landing a new sugar daddy, going so far as to have her students fill out a questionnaire detailing their parents' marital status and income.

Meredith butts heads with prissy, by-the-book faculty president Ginny (Kristin Davis, "Sex and the City"), pulls the wool over the eyes of principal Carl Gaines (David Alan Grier) and befriends nerdy teacher Irene (Sara Gilbert, "The Talk").

Written by Hilary Winston ("Happy Endings," "Community"), tonight's pilot includes some snappy, entertaining banter:

"Your stepmom sent me to get you," Meredith tells Lily (Sara Rodier), a middle school student whom Meredith befriends.

"That's what child molesters say," Lily replies.

"Don't flatter yourself," Meredith responds.

But the dialogue, while fun, doesn't mask how wholly unoriginal the characters, their relationships and interactions are. Meredith runs afoul of Ginny but manages to scam her way back into the principal's good graces. Jock gym teacher Joel (Ryan Hansen, "Veronica Mars") hits on Meredith relentlessly.

"It gets better," Meredith tells a group of bullied students. "OK, honestly, not right away and not for everybody. Probably only for one of you."

But for all her selfishness, when necessary, Meredith makes the right decision and forgoes a date with a wealthy dad in favor of encouraging her less popular charges: "If you're feeling insecure on the inside, you have to project confidence on the outside."

That willingness to go the predictable broadcast TV route is less "Bad Teacher" and more "Lame Teacher."

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