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Tuned In: Of three new shows, ABC's 'I'm With Her' stands out

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Two days, two new quality sitcoms. Yesterday it was CBS's "Two and a Half Men"; today it's ABC's "I'm With Her" (8:30 tonight), a funny, cute romantic comedy.

"I'm With Her"

When: 8:30 tonight on ABC.

Starring: Teri Polo


When movie star Alex Young (Teri Polo) goes out for coffee, she doesn't expect to find love with a man who gets bitten by her dog. But English teacher Patrick Owen (David Sutcliffe) makes a positive impression after extricating himself from the jaws of the pooch. Phone numbers are exchanged; pining begins.

Alex bounces her feelings off her sister, the jaded Cheri (Rhea Seehorn). Patrick commiserates with his best friend, Stevie (Danny Comden). Both sidekicks hold their own opposite the leads -- and sometimes they're funnier in ways reminiscent of Jack and Karen on "Will & Grace."

When Alex calls Patrick and Stevie answers the phone, he proceeds to lick it because he's so in love with the idea of his best friend dating a movie star. But Patrick resists the temptation, worried about how he'll be affected when paparazzi begin showing up at his school.

"I know she doesn't grade papers or smell like chalk or whatever other freaky thing you're into," Stevie says, beginning his plea that Patrick give Alex a chance.

On the other hand, Cheri doesn't want Alex dating "a civilian."

"That's what I date," she says. "Once you start dipping into my pool, where am I supposed to go?"

Jokes about the movie business don't overwhelm "I'm With Her"; they're merely the seasoning in a show that stands on its own through its characters, strong performances and a genuinely funny script by co-creators Chris Henchy and Marco Pennette.

'Navy NCIS'

"Navy NCIS"

When: 8 tonight on CBS.

Starring: Mark Harmon


Tonally, this is one weird show.

Tonight's premiere includes a terrorist attack on Air Force One while it carries President Bush -- or, more accurately, a look-alike actor -- but more often than not the show is glib and lighthearted.

In a jurisdictional dust-up, one NCIS officer pretends to be a cadaver to trick the FBI. A poisoning case prompts a NCIS scientist to ask, "Did you dudes in the Secret Service ever think about throwing yourself in front of the president's diet?"

At least the show addresses comparisons to "CSI" up front. When an airport security screener sees his first NCIS badge, he asks, "Is that anything like CSI?"

"Only if you're dyslexic," replies agent Anthony Dinozzo (Michael Weatherly), one member of the team headed by special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon).

During most of the pilot, Gibbs spars with Secret Service agent Katie Todd (Sasha Alexander). She's tough, but he still lectures her condescendingly. "NCIS" won't win any awards from the National Organization for Women.

Harmon brings a light touch to this schizophrenic show. He's a sensitive cowboy who does his job and then goes home to work on a boat he's building.

'One Tree Hill'

"One Tree Hill"

When: 9 tonight on The WB.

Starring: Chad Michael Murray


The WB's latest teen soap, a bid to woo back viewers despondent over the end of "Dawson's Creek," is a little overheated, too obvious and too cliche-ridden. But it's still an entertaining yarn.

Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) is a sensitive, ridiculously literate loner who dribbles his basketball down the street, wearing his hoodie up like a little Eminem. He worries about his single mom, Karen (Moira Kelly), and is loyal to his boys who play b-ball with him down at the park.

His half-brother, Nathan Scott (James Lafferty), is an arrogant jerk who talks back to the high school basketball team's coach (Barry Corbin) and mistreats his girlfriend (Hilarie Burton).

The two boys share a father, Dan Scott (Paul Johansson), who's even more obnoxious than his son (see, that's where Nathan gets it from). In the pilot, after the coach attempts to recruit Lucas, Dan tries to stop his illegitimate son from playing alongside Nathan, through whom he lives vicariously.

Written by Mark Schwahn, "One Tree Hill" is enjoyably cheesy with some nice moments of juxtaposed stories and visuals. Teen soap fans will be satisfied, as long as they're willing to endure the show's intense, sometimes laughable earnestness. There's little humor or self-awareness here as there is on Fox's superior "The O.C."

Parents might not be thrilled with their kids wandering up this "Hill" though: When Nathan runs past the cheerleaders on the sideline, his girlfriend teases, "Don't bother showering tonight." Great, not just teen sex, smelly teen sex!

Rob Owen can be reached at or 412-263-2582. Post questions or comments to under TV Forum.

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