REASON TO WATCH: "Its one square mile of Brooklyn jampacked with crazy Russians."
WHEN/WHERE: Thursday night at 10:30 on Lifetime
Something must have been lost in translation. Maybe Russian immigrants' definition of "crazy" is different from Americans'.
In the premiere of this peek into daily life among them in Brighton Beach, Marina goes jewelry shopping and mopes about her mother-in-law's belly dancing in the local grandmother pageant. Diana mopes about being 23 and dating a Spanish guy who owns a Maserati but can't give her Russian babies: "My mom really wants to be a grandma. Time's running out."
Younger Russian babes hang out at the local bathhouse in bikinis, while local guys mope about their love lives: "Russian women love to flirt, but they never give up the goods . . . Sometimes they just want the free dinner."
MY SAY And sometimes they just want to be reality TV stars without giving up the goods. Like being, I dunno, flaky, or fiery, or eccentric, or extravagant, or even dressing up (or down) to play the part. Drama here consists of Diana's breaking up with her Maserati dude and telling the camera "I feel bad. He's a really nice guy. But that's the way the cookie crumbles." C'mon -- not even some colorful Russian aphorism?
So what's the point? These folks could be Peruvian or Lebanese for all the ethnic flavor, unless you count Diana's throwaway borscht-making lesson with mom. "Russian Dolls" is so busily edited -- is any shot longer than 3 seconds? -- that there's no flavor of anything. It's like one of those old kidnap ransom notes with words spelled out in letters cut out and pasted down from newspaper headlines to remain anonymous.
If nothing else, seeing this show might make us more appreciative of all the effort those "Jersey Shore" folks put into their portrayals. Who knew they had such a work ethic?
BOTTOM LINE Nyet.