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As new shows debut in dribs and drabs, CBS delivers one that's actually worth keeping
Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams play the all-powerful owners of '666 Park Avenue.'
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By Rob Hedelt
ABETTER than expected drama, one that disappoints and a really stupid sitcom round out today's look at recent TV arrivals.
The quality drama is CBS' "Made in Jersey," the tale of a scrappy young lawyer who uses her blue-collar background to her advantage at a prestigious Manhattan law firm.
Yes, there was the obligatory "Housewives of New Jersey" reference in the pilot, as pretty and smart Martina (Janet Montgomery) alludes to the women in her Italian family who resemble the gaggle on that reality show.
But thankfully, the reference to that world across the river was simply intended to show where this young lawyer came from. Once the show gets started, we see that the work ethic she learned growing up there serves her well.
Instead of simply taking a plea to help a young client, a woman charged with murder, Martina pushes every new lead, every new clue until she finds something to help her.
The show works largely because Montgomery is a winning young actress, but also because it's written in an intelligent and interesting way.
There are a raft of other main characters, from the friendly receptionist to the lawyers who initially look down their noses at Martina, but soon come to appreciate her intelligence and drive.
Do we need another lawyer show? Probably not, but making Martina a character who benefits from Italian working-class roots gives this drama a fresh, real feel.
A new show like ABC's "666 Park Avenue" walks a very fine line.
It's trying to launch a drama built around a haunted New York apartment building, with the two devilish owners living up in the penthouse.
From the get-go, there are two basic choices. The show can pack in really scary stuff and try to top itself each week. Or it can go for a serialized sort of "weirdness of the week," using the folks living in the building as a sort of fright-night "Love Boat."
I'm sorry to see that "666" seems to be choosing the latter, setting up just enough strangeness--a killer elevator, spirits wandering the basement, all-powerful owners who can return folks from the dead--to be different.
WANT TO WATCH? What: "Made in Jersey" When: Fridays at 9 Where: CBS What: "666 Park Avenue" When: Sundays at 10 Where: ABC What: "The Neighbors" When: Wednesdays at 8:30 Where: ABC