TV Reviews: Heaven help us

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TV Reviews
"God or the Girl"
When: 9-11 p.m. today and tomorrow, 10-11 p.m. April 23, A&E.
"What About Brian"
When: 10 p.m. today and tomorrow, ABC.
Starring: Barry Watson.

Two new series ask questions in their titles, but neither uses a question mark. What's up with that?

'God or the Girl'
Because of its trivializing title, there's bound to be controversy surrounding this series and its Easter Sunday premiere, though it's not blasphemous. It is, however, boring after you get past the first hour.

A&E's "God or the Girl" (9-11 p.m. today and tomorrow; 10-11 p.m. April 23) chronicles the decision-making processes of four young men who are considering a life of service to God as Roman Catholic priests. It's a potentially interesting topic, but it should have been made as a one-shot documentary film, not a series. Once you meet the guys in tonight's premiere and learn about their struggles, there's no need to sit through multiple hours leading up to their decisions.

"God or the Girl" isn't like "Amish in the City," which changed the environment of its participants, loading Amish kids into a Hollywood hills home. This is a docu-reality show that follows four guys in their everyday life and doesn't appear to be overly obtrusive in their decision-making process.

While two of the potential priests seem to be mature and emotionally stable enough to make a decision about entering the priesthood, two others appear to be plagued by unresolved issues of commitment and, possibly, sexual identity.

Indecisive Joe Adair, 28, has already been in and out of seminaries twice. Dan DeMatte, 21, lives with nine celibate guys and stages prayer vigils in front of abortion clinics and strip clubs. Steve Horvath, 25, quit his highly paid consultant job to become a campus missionary. South Williamsport, Pa., native Mike Lechniak, 24, gets the most unintentionally comedic story as he's torn between his girlfriend and the approval of his jealous priest.

"Sometimes [Mike] believes [his girlfriends] can be very manipulative in his life," the Rev. Pauselli says.

"They try to tell him where he is to go and what he is to do, and I know he doesn't like it too much. Michael doesn't care for it at all," the priest says, sounding perhaps as manipulative as the girls he's competing against for Mike's attention. (Many other priests come off much better than Pauselli.)

Despite the reductive title that's not altogether accurate -- only one of the guys currently has a steady girlfriend -- "God or the Girl" seriously examines the difficult decisions facing those who consider a religious calling. Too bad it does so in a drawn-out, uninviting way that only serves a network looking to fill air time.

What About Brian
Launching "What About Brian" in the "Grey's Anatomy" slot tonight may be about more than trying to woo an audience in an already popular ABC time period. "Brian" is actually a lot like "Grey's," with its title character playing the Meredith role. Instead of pining for McDreamy, Brian (Barry Watson, "7th Heaven") has an unrequited love for his best friend's girlfriend, McHottie.

Marjorie (Sarah Lancaster, "Everwood") is educated, compassionate and fun, a perfect mate. If only she weren't dating Brian's buddy, Adam (Matthew Davis). They all hang out in the same group of friends, which temporarily includes Brian's latest bedmate, "Car girl" ("Felicity" star Amy Jo Johnson in an amusing guest role).

Fans of awkward silences, messy relationship turmoil and general "thirtysomething"-ish angst may take to "What About Brian" (10 tonight; moves to its regular time slot tomorrow, 10 p.m. Monday). I'm not sold on this relationship drama yet, but I wasn't impressed with "Grey's Anatomy" early on, either.

"What About Brian" isn't a terrible show, it just doesn't offer enough unique reasons to make a weekly appointment with this gang of friends.


TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Ask TV questions at www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Q&A.


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