REASON TO WATCH: For CW fans who loved (and miss) the "Everwood" or "Gilmore Girls" vibe once so prevalent on this network (and its predecessor, the WB).
WHEN/WHERE: Monday night at 9 on CW/11
Lux (Brittany Robertson) is a smart, cute, sassy 15-going-on-16-year-old who's getting bounced out of her last foster home and is determined to strike out on her own. Only challenge: She needs the signatures of her biological parents on a legal form that will set her free, at last.
She has little trouble finding them: Nate "Baze" Bazile (Kristoffer Polaha) and some of his pals run a bar in Portland, Ore., where they drink most of the profits and otherwise are poster boys for arrested development syndrome. Her mother, Cate Cassidy (Shiri Appleby), is a Portland morning radio talk-show host whose co-star, Ryan Thomas (Kerr Smith), is also her on-and-off-again fiancé. They wake Portland up to endless chatter about relationships, sex and Cate's commitment phobia.
Meanwhile, the result of Cate and Baze's brief tumble in the back of a van during a high-school prom now needs them to sign her paper. A family court judge, however, throws a roadblock in front of the plan.
I can't help thinking that if "Life Unexpected" had a vampire or two, this might end up becoming the biggest hit in CW history. No vamps - but an emo soundtrack that out-emos "Grey's Anatomy." "Life" feels like a food product - a Smoothie, let's say - that's been thoroughly, relentlessly test-marketed. Every line, situation, utterance and character has been thrown into a blender, then pureed precisely and perfectly according to audience expectations.
That audience (15-year-olds) may love it - especially if they want something with no bite.
The cast has major potential, but "Life Unexpected" still needs to find an original and compelling voice.