Tuned In: 'Gilmore Girls' creator's 'Return' is a disappointing go-round
Sarah (Parker Posey, left) is a successful children's book editor who reconnects with her estranged and free-spirited younger sister Coco (Lauren Ambrose) in "The Return of Jezebel James," which premieres tonight at 8 on Fox.
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You know Fox hates your new comedy series when ...
A) Fox cuts the episode order.
B) Fox schedules your show for Friday night, a dead night for broadcast TV.
C) Fox promises to launch your show after "American Idol" before sending it to Friday night Siberia, then changes its mind on the post-"Idol" launch, sticking you with nothing but that Friday death slot.
D) All of the above.
Alas, for Amy Sherman-Palladino, the answer is D. "The Return of Jezebel James" (8 p.m. tomorrow, WPGH) was supposed to mark the triumphant return of Sherman-Palladino, creator of the beloved "Gilmore Girls," who left that series a year before it reached its conclusion. Instead, the show will launch with a whimper. Sadly, it deserves no better.
Miscast and only intermittently funny, "Jezebel James" misfires on all cylinders.
Indie film actress Parker Posey plays Sarah, a childless, more selfish Lorelai Gilmore. Sarah is another Sherman-Palladino woman who speaks in rat-a-tat-tat zingers. She's sophisticated but daffy and not always likable.
Sarah works as a children's book editor, and one of her books shares its title with this comedy series. Viewers learn in the pilot that Jezebel James was the imaginary friend of Sarah's estranged sister, Coco (Lauren Ambrose).
If there's a good reason for naming the show after this throwaway bit of trivia, it's not clear from two episodes sent for review. It's certainly doesn't play into the main plot of the show: Sarah can't conceive a child and asks Coco to be her surrogate.
At first, Coco is appalled, fearing a scene out of "Alien." (Because this is a Sherman-Palladino show, pop culture references abound.)
"Not exactly like 'Alien,' " Sarah says. "It'll have a different exit strategy."
Posey is curiously flat. Scenes only come to life in the pilot once Ambrose enters with her patented, angry-young-woman routine. Honed over the years on "Six Feet Under," Ambrose's fiery reactions give the show some spark, even if I never quite believe any of the characters as real people.
While Sherman-Palladino wrote talky scenes with aplomb on "Gilmore Girls," in "Jezebel James" these long stretches of blathering are a bore.
Partly it's the delivery, partly it's that too often the dialogue fails to amuse, particularly in an episode after the pilot.
Sadly for fans of "Gilmore Girls," myself included, this "Return" is less than triumphant.
Channel 11 airs another in its series of environmental specials. "Going Green: Remarkable Reusables" premieres at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and looks at the benefits of recycling.
WPXI news anchor Peggy Finnegan and chief meteorologist Mike LaPoint will co-host the half-hour program that explores assorted recycling issues, including how to dispose of cell phones, printers and computers in an environmentally safe manner.
Showtime has renewed lesbian drama "The L Word" for a sixth and final season of eight episodes to air in early 2009. ... Despite modest ratings, ABC's prime-time game show "Duel" will return for 10 new episodes starting April 4, according to The Hollywood Reporter. ... Jonah Hill ("Superbad") will host NBC's "Saturday Night Live" (11:30 p.m. Saturday, WPXI) this weekend with musical guest Mariah Carey. ... Michael Bummer of Pittsburgh will appear on "The Price Is Right" (11 a.m. weekdays, KDKA) Wednesday.
In this week's Tuned In Podcast, Post-Gazette entertainment editor Sharon Eberson and I look back on the finale of "The Wire" and look ahead to HBO's "John Adams" miniseries and the return of fresh episodes of prime-time scripted series. Listen to or download it at post-gazette.com/podcast.
Tuned In Podcast will be on hiatus for two weeks, returning with a new episode on April 1.
This week's TV Q&A responds to questions about "MI-5," "Notes From the Underbelly" and Discovery Times Channel. Read it online at post-gazette.com/tv.
First Published March 14, 2008 12:00 am