THE SHOW "Devious Maids"
WHEN | WHERE Premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. on Lifetime
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Marc Cherry's ("Desperate Housewives") quasi-adaptation of the Mexican telenovela, "Ellas Son . . . La Alegria del Hogar," is an "Upstairs, Downstairs"-like dramedy about domestics and the Beverly Hills rich and pampered who hire them.
Of course, everyone has secrets -- and secret desires. The maids -- all pals, and all gossips -- are: Zoila Del Barrio (Judy Reyes) and daughter Valentina (Edy Ganem) who work in the mansion of Genevieve Delatour (Susan Lucci); Carmen Luna (Roselyn Sanchez), maid of international pop star Alejandro Rubio (Matt Cedeno); Rosie Falta (Dania Ramirez), in the beachfront pad of actors Spence (Grant Show) and Peri Westmore (Mariana Klaveno); and Flora Hernandez (Paula Garces), in the home of the Powells (Tom Irwin and Rebecca Wisocky). A murder most foul begins this series that was originally produced for ABC. (Eva Longoria is also executive producer.)
MY SAY "Devious Maids" is one of those shows that make a great first impression; problems begin with the second. The Latina female leads are -- to put this in a way that's both politically correct and blandly inoffensive -- vivacious. In less correct terms, they're hot. The show's visuals pop -- so full of vivid greens and blues and a wide palette of a thousand colors in between that you may want to linger just to admire what's on the screen. The music track has a pleasing salsa beat with just a hint of melancholy.
That trademark Cherry wit, written in acid, is evident here. too. (One wife to her lecherous husband: "When a woman's skin crawls, it doesn't mean she's attracted to you.") Then the second impression sets in: There are too many stories to service, none of them particularly involving: the Beverly Hills employers, the "upstairs" component, tend to be cardboard cutouts -- broadly drawn bores who look like they wandered off the set of "90210." Even Lucci acts like she's doing an impression of Erica Kane. But the biggest problem here is the sprawl -- lots of stories, lots of characters, lots of colors -- and not one them going anywhere in a hurry.
BOTTOM LINE A beautiful mess.