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On The Tube

Sept 29 , 2011
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By Dean Robbins

'Suburgatory' sets out to destroy the suburbs

"Suburgatory" (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., ABC) runs roughshod through the suburbs, laying waste to the malls and manicured lawns. This new satire stars Jane Levy as Tessa, a Greenwich Village wild child whose dad moves her to suburban hell for a supposedly more wholesome life. Levy looks like a young Julia Roberts and also has Roberts' way with a deadpan wisecrack. Her character is our tour guide through this strange new world of nose jobs and lacquered hair, narrating with city-girl sarcasm.

Tessa can't believe her dad (Jeremy Sisto) expects her to be happy among the plastic people. And she just sneers when he unveils their new suburban accoutrements with an enthusiastic "ta-da!"

" 'Ta-da' is what you say when something good happens."

"Suburgatory" gets every potpourri-scented detail right (believe me, I speak from experience), but its scorn never turns toxic. The filmmakers avoid condescension by giving Tessa a heart under her smug superiority. As a result, "Suburgatory" is the rare sitcom that crushes its subject while displaying a certain amount of affection for it.

Ta-da!

'Prime Suspect'

Thursday, 9 p.m. (NBC)

Maria Bello will probably grow tired of being compared to Helen Mirren in this American remake of the beloved British crime series. But you can't help it — Mirren gave an unforgettable performance as homicide detective Jane Tennison, while Bello is eminently forgettable as the new Jane, who deals with cartoonish sexism from colleagues on the Manhattan force. Bellow lacks Mirren's gravitas, flashing a 100-watt smile that seems more appropriate for a sitcom than a gritty drama. Her jaunty fedora doesn't help, nor does her constant gum chewing.

I hate to say it, but I think Helen Mirren could even chew gum better than that. CV



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