TV Eye

Adorable Idiots and Selfish Jerks

<i>What About Brian</i>
What About Brian

The verdict is in: Being single stinks. At least that's what TV teaches us. After watching the premiere of What About Brian (ABC), it appears that the only thing worse than being single is being single among a group of friends who infantalize said single friend while trying to give romantic advice. This could be amusing, endearing even, if Brian's concerned friends weren't involved in their own pathetic relationships. And if Brian weren't such an idiot. An adorable idiot, but an idiot all the same.

The enormously likable Barry Watson, who earned his charm degree as the eldest son in 7th Heaven (the WB) stars as Brian in this hourlong dramedy. A half-dozen well-meaning friends surround Brian. None of them are worth mentioning, except for Sarah Lancaster, who played the beguiling Madison Kellner on Everwood (the WB). Here, she's a brunette, playing Marjorie, the love of Brian's life. The only problem is, Marjorie is engaged to Brian's best friend, Adam, a selfish jerk bound to break Marjorie's heart. In a chance encounter in a closet, there is some definite sizzle between Brian and Marjorie, and this is what will likely drive the series and attract viewers tuning into these prime-time soaps in droves.

What About Brian is the third in a recent spate of male-centered dramedies about a good guy looking for the right woman. John Stamos in Jake in Progress (ABC) was one of the first out of the chute, followed by Tom Cavanaugh in Love Monkey (CBS). Of the two, the latter is head and shoulders above the rest. Unfortunately, the future is uncertain for Love Monkey, but I predict that Brian will do just fine. Unchallenging, uninspired, and mildly funny, the strongest thing about it (unlike say, Grey's Anatomy) is its appealing lead and the appeal of the love that cannot be. Whether Watson can carry the weight of the cast on his back (whereas the cast of Grey's Anatomy effortlessly carry Ellen Pompeo on their backs) is yet to be seen. However, I think Watson might pull it off.

What About Brian airs Mondays at 9pm on ABC.

Favorite Moment of the Week

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has broken the so-called "Seinfeld curse" with her sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine. A recent episode took a break from the new single mom angle to give a pointed and smart look at what it means to raise a kid in a diverse society. Concerned that her son's class at the exclusive school she's recently enrolled him in is predominantly white, she sponsors an African-American family applying for admission to his school. What does she know about them?

"They're black!" she proudly says to the admissions board.

When the black family turns out to be homophobic, she seeks the aid of her good friend Barb (Wanda Sykes) to find "some good black people" for her son's school.

"Why? What are they going to do with them?"

"Nothing! Just to have their kids go to school there. I sponsored this one family, but then they turned out to be homophobic. I want different ones."

"Well, did you keep the receipt? Christine, that's racist!"

"What? How can I be racist? I drive a Prius."

"Oh, yes, I forgot how much racists hate good gas mileage."

The New Adventures of Old Christine airs Mondays at 8:30pm on CBS.

Watch This!

Sight unseen, I recommend the upcoming HBO Films two-part miniseries Elizabeth I. Why? Look at what it's got going for it: the incomparable Helen Mirren (Gosford Park); an able director: Tom Hooper (Prime Suspect); and a BAFTA Award-winning screenwriter: Nigel Williams. Already the subject of several films, art, opera, and poetry, Elizabeth I is one of the most iconic characters in world history, a keen politician who ran England for nearly 45 years. The miniseries focuses on the private life of a woman who – while able to turn a nation around during a tumultuous period in English history – was unable to see her personal desires fulfilled. Known as "the virgin queen," the label is more myth than fact. What has always fascinated me about Elizabeth I was her ability to meet the demands upon her as a stateswoman at a time when women rulers were mainly for show instead of action. Elizabeth I accomplished both tasks at once, at great personal cost.

Elizabeth I premieres on HBO Saturday, April 22, at 7pm. Part two airs Monday, April 24, at 7pm. Check local listings for additional airdates and times.

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What About Brian, Elizabeth I, The New Adventures of Old Christine

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