ABC Family's "Mystery Girls" stars (from left) Tori Spelling as...

ABC Family's "Mystery Girls" stars (from left) Tori Spelling as Holly, Miguel Pinzon as Nick and Jennie Garth as Charlie. Credit: ABC Family / Craig Sjodin

THE SHOW "Mystery Girls"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres tonight at 8:30 on ABC Family

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Every TV summer needs a guilty pleasure, and here's one you don't even have to feel guilty about. It's a cheesy comedy that practically talks back at the screen for you already!

Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth of that great '90s youth soap "Beverly Hills 90210" reunite in mocking a fictional '90s detective show, "Mystery Girls," in which their 20-something selves supposedly starred. Looks as though that was a campfest to begin with, with its blond curls, pink guns and "mystery solved" tagline.

The long-estranged rivals -- Garth's character has gone suburban mom, Spelling's remains a flighty famehead -- rejoin forces in the course of a real-life crime case. They launch an unlikely detective agency, abetted by a young gay assistant (Miguel Pinzon) whose chief qualification is his slavish devotion to their tacky TV oeuvre.

MY SAY The real mystery is why the pilot half-hour setting up all of this has been pushed back to July 16, while tonight's premiere leaps ahead to an OK case involving a celebrity sex tape. Despite a couple of out-loud laughs and '90s-craze swipes, it lacks the full-throttle attack of the pilot. That one careens on fast-forward through ruthless punchlines, '90s name-dropping and cultural currency from Twitter to TMZ to QVC to, bless their wicked little hearts, "Celebrity Beekeeper."

Real show? Or no? Spelling frequently pauses mid-chatter, wondering, in dingbat self-obsession. She's essentially a cartoon character, and a delightful one, whose tangents come out of nowhere ("Stop giving me dog commands!"). Check that. They come out of herself, since Spelling created this concept, with scriptwriter Shepard Boucher ("Men at Work").

The pilot is itself uneven, with the go-for-bonkers impudence of a live-action "Family Guy." But without it, "Mystery Girls" might be just another ABC Family-com for viewers who have aged out of Disney Channel and silly situations with sentimental topping for studio audience uproar.

BOTTOM LINE Keep those left-field jokes coming!


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