'Malibu Country' review: California, here Reba comes

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SITCOM PREMIERE "Malibu Country"

WHEN | WHERE Friday at 8:30 p.m. on ABC/7

REASON TO WATCH Reba's a straight-talkin' common-sense force of nature, with sitcom chops to boot.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Reba McEntire calls her philandering husband a "moron" while "leavin' his lyin', cheatin' butt!" But no, this isn't a flashback to her old WB sitcom, "Reba" (though you might be seeing that show these days in constant cable repeats on ABC Family and CMT).

This is the star's new ABC show, "Reba Redux" -- otherwise actually titled "Malibu Country" -- in which she's again forced to forge a new life. (Hey, it worked last time.) But the country legend isn't in the country anymore (as if the "Reba" setting of Houston was; but Texas is Texas). In this show, Reba leaves her Nashville-singer spouse for Califor-nye-ay and swank Malibu, landing in ex-hubby's cool beach house ("Your daddy had a lotta pretty things we didn't know about").

That's where quick-drawlin' Reba and her two teens and Lily Tomlin as her dope-smoking mom will teach those crazy Califor-nye-ay-uns a thing or two about being down-to-earth and unpretentious and . . . and . . . whatever Lily was about to say, but forgot.

MY SAY Just when you're thinking, "Can't anybody make a sitcom click anymore?," along comes Reba to prove the beleaguered format only needs the right actors and attitude to make it sparkle again.

Well, sorta. "Malibu Country" is nothing great. But its studio-shot sitcom style sure suits Reba. She's got clockwork timing and throws off double (and triple) takes like a modern Lucy, with self-possessed guts and gumption. Emotion doesn't elude her, either. She's got sincerity, and soul.

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Unfortunately, the script has lines like "My husband likes to wear my panties!" Reba sure can sing and act. Think she can write, too?

BOTTOM LINE A star's gotta have something to say and play. Here's hoping Reba's team learns to handle that half.

GRADE B-

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