Courteney Cox is clueless, 'Cougar Town' is clawless

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THE SHOW "Cougar Town"

WHEN | WHERE Wednesday at 9:30 on ABC/7

REASON FOR WATCHING Courteney Cox in one of the season's buzzier new shows.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Divorced from loser Bobby (Brian Van Holt), Jules Cobb (Cox) is ready to get back in the game. But "single guys our age are broke or gay or chasing younger girls," she confides to pal Laurie (Busy Philipps). And that limits the field to - yes! - all the young dudes. There are many in her Florida community, and they seem game, too. Indeed, a poster she had printed for her real-estate business that has a picture of her revealing cleavage has been pulled from lawns all over town. Jules, meanwhile, has sexual desires and doesn't pretend to hide from them, to the humiliation of her teen son, Travis (Dan Byrd).

But she also can't bear the idea of going out and making a fool of herself. Instead, she sits at home, drinks wine and chats with neighbor Ellie (Christa Miller), a font of wisdom on matters relating to the libido. Laurie convinces Jules to go out on the prowl one night. Drinks are consumed. Libidos are unleashed.

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BOTTOM LINE We can all perhaps agree that Cox is a good actress. She was good in "Scrubs," good in "Dirt," good in "Ace Ventura," good in "Scream" - and "Friends" without Monica Geller would be just about unthinkable. So why, then, is "Cougar Town" such a painful belly flop? Easy answer: The glaring mismatch between material and starring actress. As the woebegone divorcee with an antic streak and a full-blown need to get down, Cox is not believable.

In the opening scene, attempting to forge a winking comradeship with millions of other 40-year-old women in the viewing audience, she pinches rolls of fat, flops bat wings and compares herself to a farm animal. Then, a couple of scenes later, those viewers get a full-body view, and there's not a fat molecule out of place.

"Cougar Town" will get a big number Wednesday, but do not be fooled. It doesn't deserve one.

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