Saturday, March 22, 2008
The Return of Jezebel James
So, I was sucked into watching an episode of this new sit-com starring Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose. Posey plays Sarah, an editor for HarperCollins' children's division. She has everything in life—a million dollar loft in Brooklyn, a successful career, good looks, and a good relationship with her boyfriend—everything except a baby. Since she can't have children of her own, she persuades her flaky younger sister Coco (Ambrose) to carry a child for her. Laughs are now supposed to ensue.
I wanted to like this show for three reasons:
• I, too, work in children's publishing, though not for HarperCollins. There is a lot of humor that can be mined in book publishing.
• I like Lauren Ambrose, who was great as the sister on Six Feet Under.
• Parker Posey
Now, granted, I missed the pilot episode. But I did catch the second episode. I'm still waiting to laugh. Seems they had everything in place for this situation-comedy. Everything but the comedy part. There was one long scene where the free-spirited Coco is alone in Sarah's mansion (which by the way is a joke. Doesn't Jezebel's writers know the sorry state book publishing is in these days?) and can't figure out how to use the TV and stereo remote controls. The hispanic maid who doesn't speak English had to show her. It went on too long, wasn't believable (what 25 year-old doesn't know how to use a remote?), wasn't funny, and is an old joke anyway. Ha ha! She can't use a remote! Someone get me the oxygen!
Ron McLarty plays their father, but in this episode he was only in it for a minute. According to the show's official website, his character is "a man who takes other people's crap, fixes it, and then dumps it at his daughter's house." Last night's show had him dropping off an ancient humidifier that he told Sarah not to stand too close to, and not to put near a window. I guess that was supposed to be funny. The interesting thing about McLarty is he actually does know something about publishing. He wrote a great novel called The Memory of Running. He should run away from this show as fast as possible.
Now, I know there is a chance the show may improve. Look at Brad Garrett's Til Death (which Jezebel follows). It was horrible when it started, unwatchable even. But they revamped it and now it is actually pretty decent. Not in a I-have-to-Tivo-it-if-I'm-not-home sort of way. But in a if-I'm-home-and-my-TV-is-on-anyway-I'll watch it sort of way. But Garrett's talent and long history on Everybody Loves Raymond saved that show. Jezebel doesn't have that going for it.
So, in conclusion, maybe the writing on Jezebel will improve over time, so the two good lead actresses have something to work with. And maybe new writers with some edge will come on board who could actually skewer the publishing industry. Unfortunately, shows aren't given time to develop like that anymore. And it all comes down to good writing. And this show doesn't have it right now.
Update: Just saw this online:
Fox has pulled the low-rated Parkey Posey sitcom "The Return of Jezebel James" from its schedule after just three airings.
The show pulled in just 3.2 million viewers when it debuted March 14 with back-to-back episodes, the network's worst performance in the 8 p.m. hour since fall's "The Next Great American Band."