Wednesday, January 25, 2006

TV: Courting Alex

I was a little surprised to discover I didn't hate Courting Alex. I mean, I didn't like it, really, because it's not good. It's really not. But I found myself wanting to like it, and believing (perhaps foolishly) that, with just a little work, it could be good.

First of all, I like Jenna Elfman. I can certainly understand if you don't. And with her whole Scientology deal, I kind of wish I didn't like her. But she's lovely, and she can be very funny. I always liked Dharma & Greg, mainly because of her. But she's all wrong for her character in Courting Alex. Or rather, her character is all wrong for her -- the role should've been tailored to suit her better. As it is now, it's like watching her play Greg instead of Dharma. Alex Rose is an uptight lawyer who's never had time for love. See? She's Greg. Who thought it would be good to make Jenna Elfman play uptight? It's playing away from her strengths.

I also like Josh Randall, who used to be Ed's buddy Dr. Mike on Ed. He cracks me up. He plays Scott, the bar owner who courts Alex (by the way, dumb title; even if they were going for some kind of double meaning -- Scott is courting Alex, Alex is a lawyer so she's in court a lot... whatever, it's just a dumb title. "Courting" isn't really a long-term thing. But then, this show probably won't be around for the long term. But I digress). He gets the more Dharma-ish role, as the wild and free guy who breaks down Alex's uptightness. He doesn't have a lot of material to work with, but he's charming and funny enough to make the most of it.

I even like the supporting actors, Hugh Bonneville as Alex's intrusive neighbor, and Jillian Bach, who used to be on Two Guys and a Girl (which I always liked; I can't defend it, and I'm not even going to try to. I just liked it. So there), as Alex's assistant. Strangely, as of today, she's not listed on the IMDb page for the show, although she is on the CBS page. I think IMDb and CBS need to get together, because, as I noted in the comments to a recent post, Josh Randall wasn't even on the IMDb page as of last week, and he's the #2 star of the show. But I digress again.

And of course I like Dabney Coleman, as Alex's father, but his talent is absolutely wasted here. Why I didn't hate this show is because I can see such potential in the performers. I can picture them somehow bonding together as a cast and willing the show to become funny. As it stands, they generate a semblance of comedy out of the awful writing and poor premise. They approach comedy. But if the writing remains so woefully inadequate, and if the stories are all going to be shoehorned into this "workaholic who finds love" structure, they don't have a chance of actually achieving comedy.

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