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TV Reviews: New shows run gamut from crude to shrewd

Monday, September 15, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Hip-hop music sensation Eve stars in an alternately sweet and sour sitcom about a fashion designer seeking love. In UPN's "Eve," she plays Shelley Williams, a fashion designer who falls for J.T. (Jason George) after his zipper gets caught on the back of her dress.

 
 
"Eve"

When: 8:30 tonight on UPN

Starring: Eve

   
 

"Hello, caught on a man's crotch here!" she exclaims when someone tries to change the subject. Not that it's easy to change the subject on most sitcoms, which today seem to focus almost exclusively on sex and innuendo. A little goes a long way, and if you watch much prime-time television, you'll feel as if you're drowning in it.

And so we have "Eve," a comedy with its fair share of yuks, but a lot of yucks, too. And insult humor aplenty. Shelley and J.T. both know the bride in an upcoming wedding and compare notes on the woman's buttocks.

"It's like Disneyland," Shelley exclaims, "you can't see it all in one day!"

That would be the sour. The sweet comes after Shelley, realizing she may have prejudged J.T. when he cries at "Casablanca," has a change of heart.

"Men cry sometimes; it don't make us punks, it makes us human," J.T. declares. It doesn't sound as classy as "If you prick us, do we not bleed?" but you get the idea.

Both naughty and nice, "Eve" isn't the most over-the-top fall sitcom (see "Rock Me Baby"), but it flirts with disaster.

"Guts & Bolts"

 
 
"Guts & Bolts"

When: 8:30 tonight on History Channel

Starring: Tim Beggy

   
 

Pittsburgh native Tim Beggy, who's milked an entire career in front of the cameras out of his starring role in an early season of MTV's "Road Rules," hosts this History Channel series that will be of particular interest to techies and anyone curious about how things work.

It's a behind-the-scenes show that turns out to be a lot of fun as it explains how modern technologies came to exist, both culturally and mechanically.

In tonight's premiere, Beggy visits the home of Taser International, maker of the nonlethal stun gun used by police. Naturally, Beggy volunteers to be Tasered. That process has been covered in plenty of local TV news reports, but other segments are more creative.

Beggy invites viewers to see how cameras that capture speeders running through red lights work. It's explained simply and clearly.

He also rides along with an airport fire truck and demonstrates its various features. Gadget gurus everywhere will be enthralled.

"Everwood"

 
 
"Everwood"

When: 9 tonight on The WB

Starring: Gregory Smith

   
 

It's difficult to review tonight's second season premiere of The WB's "Everwood" without giving away the cliffhanger -- did Doc Brown (Treat Williams) heal Colin (Mike Erwin) or kill him? -- because the whole emotion-filled episode dwells on the outcome, which comes down to a promise the doc made to Colin before the surgery.

Suffice it to say, I was surprised, not just by the plot resolution, but by the resulting reactions from various characters. Some of those reactions are entirely believable; others are TV cliches and thus unlike the way people behave in the real world.

Regardless, there's some humor and a really nice scene between Dr. Abbott (Tom Amandes) and his usually obnoxious son, Bright (Chris Pratt).

This addictive family drama begins its second season on a sure footing, and it promises only to get better when actress Marcia Cross (crazy wig-wearing Kimberly in her "Melrose Place" days) joins the cast as Dr. Abbott's sister and a possible love interest for Doc Brown.

"All of Us"

 
 
"All of Us"

When: 8:30 p.m. tomorrow on UPN

Starring: Duane Martin

   
 

With Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith as executive producers and with the show based loosely on their lives -- Smith had a child by his first wife before getting a divorce and subsequently marrying Jada -- "All of Us" chronicles the making of a blended family with sensitivity and with some humor.

Robert James (Duane Martin) is a TV entertainment reporter, whose wife, Neesee (LisaRaye), decided to leave him. The couple have a son, Bobby (Khamani Griffin), which complicates matters further after Robert falls in love with one of Bobby's teachers, Tia (Elise Neal), and they plan to marry.

The show is at its best in the quiet moments when Robert has a heart-to-heart with Bobby.

"Does Mommy make you happy?" Bobby asks his dad.

"The fact that she made you will always make me happy," Robert replies.

"All of Us" is a sweet, gently funny show, and what humor there is doesn't come off as too broad or sitcomy.

"Rock Me Baby"

 
 
"Rock Me Baby"

When: 9 p.m. tomorrow on UPN.

Starring: Dan Cortese

   
 

Anyone looking to crusade against raunchy humor in prime time will find a straw man in this knowingly crude comedy.

Sewickley native Dan Cortese stars as Jimmy, a Denver DJ whose wife (Bianca Kajlich) recently gave birth to their first child. Jimmy wants to have sex, trying to get his wife in the mood by employing various euphemistic phrases that can't be printed in a family newspaper. They're more graphic than funny and should be beneath the admittedly low standards of a broadcast network.

At work, Jimmy's morning show partner (Carl Anthony Payne) razzes Jimmy about his newfound domestication ("Wow, sounds like being a dad changes you into a woman") and accuses him of losing his edge. Jimmy tries to prove him wrong by passing gas and imagining what Yoda would say during sex.

Apparently even lowbrow humor can sink so far as to become nobrow.


Rob Owen can be reached at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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