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'Suburgatory' falls flat in good slot

In this photo from the pilot of

In this photo from the pilot of "Suburgatory," being in the 'burbs can be hell, but it also may just bring Tessa and George closer than they've ever been. "Suburgatory" is an all-new comedy premiering Sept. 28. Photo Credit: ABC


WHEN | WHERE Wednesday night at 8:30 on ABC/7

REASON TO WATCH Strategically sandwiched between two big ABC comedies, "The Middle" and "Modern Family," it might be hard not to.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT From the day she was born, Tessa (Jane Levy) has been raised by her dad, George (Jeremy Sisto), in New York City. But after Dad discovers a box of condoms in her bedroom drawer, he decides to uproot and move to the safer confines of the suburbs.

Wise-for-her-teenage-years Tessa finds the 'burbs insufferable -- full of climbers, phonies and (mostly) moms with a sartorial appetite for pink. But a bit like a latter-day Oliver Douglas, architect George decides these green acres are where he wants to be, even if his only daughter can't stand them. Meanwhile, he meets a Plasticine mom, Dallas Royce (Cheryl Hines), who has a job for him.

MY SAY The suburbs have been a target-rich environment for comedy writers about as long as TV has been around -- if only because most viewers tend to live there. Dick Van Dyke returns home from his comedy- writing job in New York only to trip over a piece of living room furniture in his New Rochelle split level? Perfect! The 'burbs are for dorks; the big city by the Hudson is the cool place to be. That's OK: We dorks who have lived -- or live -- in the culturally benighted outer reaches of civilization are used to it. We don't mind as long as the show's funny. Which "Suburgatory" mostly is not.

Where does this supposed satire on vapid moms and the brats they raise take place? Presumably someplace in Westchester, like Larchmont or Rye. But it may as well be on the moon. The archetypes -- the preening father with the spray-on tan, the nosy mom proffering phony gifts, the teens with towering attitude -- are so broadly drawn that they're not even remotely recognizable, or worse, tired cliches. The outsized denizens of Wisteria Lane are even more believable.

BOTTOM LINE "Suburgatory" falls flat -- a flatness that will be accentuated by the smart suburban comedies that bookend it.



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