BY TOM GLIATTO
David E. Kelley, who gave FOX one of its signature hits with Ally McBeal
, is an executive producer of this new series about three sisters, cutely surnamed Bell, who run a wedding-planning business. It's an unstable, lopsided cake of a show: Everything seems to be sinking into an unappetizing sweet goo. The sisters placate comically hysterical women and even the occasional hysterical man (I won't give away the sentimental twist that explains why a prospective groom has everyone thinking he's flamboyantly gay). It's not that the tone here is anything new for Kelley—Boston Legal
could be called lustily implausible—but this ensemble, while collectively pretty, is also inert. No zest, no fun. It's like Designing Women
with ankle weights. Teri Polo, as the sensible sister best at responding to nuptial crises (while having tensions in her own marriage), plays many scenes with a look of strained stoicism, as if expecting a terrorist to toss a bomb concealed in a bouquet. Wedding's off.
Showtime (March 22, 10:30 p.m. ET)
Developed from host Ira Glass's public-radio show, This American Life
is a half-hour series with an offbeat sensibility and a reflective, compassionate intelligence. I can't imagine any other news magazine leading off with a segment about a man who clones his beloved, gentle ox after its death, then has to come to grips with the fact that the replacement has a dangerous streak (it gores him repeatedly). He loves the cloned ox anyway. Frankenstein with cattle! Then there's a touching report about senior citizens making a movie short to submit to Sundance. The show falls prey to a faint preciousness in the voiceover narration from its correspondents and host Glass (who begins the show sitting at a desk plunked down in locales with no studio in sight). They overarticulate the ironies instead of just letting you watch. Which you should do. Watch.
Oxygen (Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET)
Why do I so love Tori Spelling
? Because she's always trying with such monumental might to land the right vehicle, the one that'll boost her from marginal-respectable fame to concrete stardom. It's the stuff of myth: Tori with her shoulder to the rock of fame, pushing up the mountain. Oof! On VH1's So NoTORIous
she gamely mixed self-parody and camp. Too mannered. This series is a better fit. It follows Spelling, pregnant with her first child, and her husband, actor Dean McDermott, as they open a B&B. The premiere covers Tori's deluxe fund-raising garage sale. She wades through the souvenirs and red-carpet gowns of her life and lets most of them go without a fuss. She's happy and mellow with the pregnancy. Maybe that monumental might has softened.
Williams, who plays a frustrated yet fun-loving wedding singer named Ralph Snow, says he's the only major cast member who's unattached. But no rush, right? "I'm searching for Mrs. Right, not Mrs. Right Now," says Williams, 39, who happens to be the younger brother of Ugly Betty
's Vanessa Williams
, 44. "She came to the set yesterday for the first time. I go to Ugly Betty
all of the time. She's getting her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this month, and I'm giving a speech. We have a great relationship."
(CBS, March 21, 10 p.m. ET) Double murder at the United Nations during a French Revolution-themed party. C'est dommage.
(Bravo, March 20, 11 p.m. ET) Season 2 for this reality series about top L.A. trainer Jackie Warner. A spa opens, a trainer is hired—and other adventures in fitness.
America's Next Top Model
(CW, March 21, 8 p.m. ET) The girls frolic in a laser maze and receive special instruction in the indispensable art of voguing.
(ABC, March 23, 9 p.m. ET) Will this slick Manhattan drama, making its return to the schedule, finally click? It's a great-looking cast, from Bridget Moynahan to Jay Hernandez.
(Lifetime, Sundays, 10 p.m. ET) New series about a private investigator (Christina Cox) who goes sleuthing in the occult realm with her partner, a vampire named Henry (Kyle Schmid).
The Naked Brothers Band
Nat and Alex Wolff, 12 and 9, star in Nickelodeon's kid-rock hit, created, directed and produced by their mom, actress Polly Draper. Dad Michael Wolff is on the show too.
ON THE BAND'S NAME
Nat: Mom says when I was 4 and Alex was 1, we got out of the tub and said, "We're the Naked Brothers Band." But we don't think it's true.
ON WORKING WITH FAMILY
Alex: When you make a mistake in a scene, you can be like, "Mommy, I love you!" With another director, that doesn't work!
Nat: And Alex and I never fight.
Alex: [laughing] No! Never!
ON THEIR ROCK IDOLS
Nat: Beatles! Best band ever! And I was trying to be like the Beach Boys when I wrote a batch of car songs—"Motor Mouth," "Crazy Car," "Got No Mojo." They always wrote about cars.
ON FAVE SCHOOL SUBJECTS
ON DEALING WITH GIRLS
Alex: I run away. Unless they're pretty.
Nat: I'm dating ET [their dog].
FOX (Fridays, 9 p.m. ET)