Picks and Pans Review: So Notorious

updated 04/10/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/10/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

VH1 (Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)



Tori Spelling's new sitcom (and VH1's first) drops us down a rabbit hole with an Alice who happened to star on Beverly Hills, 90210. A farcical gloss on Tori's fabulous life as an actress and the daughter of producer Aaron Spelling, the show is vertiginously Tori-centric. She plays herself, Tori Spelling, surrounded by a fictional roommate and friends, but the scripts are full of jokey, pointed allusions to her real world, including her peculiar status as camp icon. ("You're a real person," says one of those friends, "not just some circus freak people like to mock and throw peanuts at.") She still has a Beverly Hills socialite for a mother, much like Candy Spelling, but now called Kiki. She's played by Loni Anderson as a twinkly but self-absorbed cutie-pie—a fairy godmother who ignores wishes. Papa is a mere voice on a phone, an allusion to TV's Charlie's Angels (which he produced). Spelling has comedic skill—she's good at sharp, petulant urgency—but emits a lot of Teri Hatcher-like squeaks. The show is interesting as a conflation of self-parody and self-love. It's like Lisa Kudrow's Comeback without the satiric contempt.

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