TV Reviews: Bring in the clowns

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'Big Day'
When: 9 p.m. Tuesday
Starring: Marla Sokoloff, Josh Cooke
'10 Items or Less'
When: 11 p.m. Monday
Starring: Jennifer Elise Cox
'My Boys'
When: 10 p.m. Tuesday
Narrator: Jordana Spiro
   

Earlier this month, networks rolled out two new prime-time dramas. This week:

Three new comedies.

'Big Day'

ABC already has "Day Break," which is "24" meets "Groundhog Day." Now there's "Big Day" (9 p.m. Tuesday, ABC), which is a comedic "24" at a wedding.

Alice (Marla Sokoloff) and Danny (Josh Cooke) want their wedding to go off without a hitch, but with her controlling mother (Wendie Malick) and his best friend (Stephen Rannazzisi), who's almost blind after Alice's sister (Miriam Shor) accidentally swallowed his contact lenses, there's little hope for a drama-free day.

Each "Big Day" episode chronicles another half-hour on the day of the wedding ceremony, which is filled to the brim with characters who are all-too-eager to throw roadblocks in the way of the happy couple. They do so with mixed comedic results.

The show's writers give the funniest comic moments to Stephnie Weir, who plays anxious wedding planner Lorna. Her line reading of "baby field greens with poached pear vinaigrette" steals the show Tuesday night, and the writers, wisely, give her a larger showcase in subsequent episodes.

Those episodes also draw more comedy from other supporting characters, which makes up (somewhat) for the bland leads.

"Big Day" doesn't feel like a big hit, but it is intermittently amusing.

'10 Items or Less'

What is it with networks scheduling part-scripted, part-improvised comedy series starring Jennifer Elise Cox on Mondays at 11 p.m.? Cox starred earlier this year as ditzy receptionist Tiffany in Lifetime's "Lovespring International," which aired in the same time slot. It's a difficult time period because most viewers aren't accustomed to seeing an original, scripted comedy in that time slot. They're most likely watching the late news or going to bed (except for college students, which "10 Items" seems designed to attract).

That won't stop TBS from premiering its grocery store-set comedy "10 Items or Less" at 11 p.m. Monday this week. It stars John Lehr as Leslie Pool, the doofus store owner/manager who takes over his family's Dayton, Ohio, grocery after his father's death.

Cox plays Amy, manager of the competing nearby Super Value Mart. Her company wants to buy Greens & Grains and turn it into a parking lot. Amy gets the best line in the pilot, threatening Leslie: "[Greens & Grains] is a third world country and Super Value Mart is America. We will invade you and shoot you and kill you."

The rest of the pilot, introducing assorted store employees (including Carnegie Mellon University alum Roberta Valderrama as Yolanda), is sort of ho-hum. A second episode, sent for review, was funnier. Leslie discovers a water stain that resembles Jesus Christ, leading him to print up a flyer that states, "Come see the miracle, stay for the prices!"

"10 Items" isn't a great comedy yet, but it often takes time. "Lovespring" didn't jell until the second half of its first season, either.

'My Boys'

At least there are some laughs in "10 Items." TBS's other new comedy, "My Boys" (10 p.m. Tuesday), is a lackluster "Sex and the City" companion with narrator PJ Franklin (Jordana Spiro) as a tomboy Carrie Bradshaw.

Like Carrie, PJ is a writer, only she writes about sports for a Chicago newspaper, and instead of surrounding herself with a posse of women her best buds are all guys, including older brother Andy (Jim Gaffigan) and new guy/potential love interest Bobby (Kyle Howard).

PJ narrates the show in sports cliches and behaves more like a guy in dating situations, viewers are told, which makes poor Bobby "feel like the chick."

None of these new series is likely to make viewers feel like TV's quality comedy drought will end anytime soon.


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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