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THE TV COLUMN

Midseason comedy, drama premiere tonight

By Michael Storey

This article was published April 24, 2014 at 2:49 a.m.

Broadcast TV rolls out a couple of midseason tryouts tonight. My prediction: Watch ’em fast because they won’t be around long.

CBS goes with a new comedy, Bad Teacher, and ABC tries the drama Black Box. Neither made much of an impression on me, but give them a look if you have nothing better to do.

Bad Teacher is a series based on the 2011 movie of the same name that wasted the talents of Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel.

Diaz and Timberlake managed to win 2011 Teen Choice Awards for comedy for their roles. That speaks more about the inchoate taste of teenagers than it does about quality.

The adaptation (watered down for TV) debuts at 8:31 p.m. today. It replaces Robin Williams’ The Crazy Ones, which has completed its season and is anxiously awaiting word on renewal. (Don’t hold your breath.)

Starring as bad teacher Meredith Davis is 30-yearold Ari Graynor (Fringe, For a Good Time, Call…). Why is she bad? Meredith is a brazen, entitled former trophy wife who was dumped and divorced, and ended up broke.

But Meredith has a rebound scheme. She plans to pose as a teacher at the ritzy middle school; meet and marry a rich single dad; and return to her previous lavish lifestyle.

David Alan Grier (In Living Color) plays clueless principal Carl Gaines, who falls for Meredith’s charming lies and hires her. Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls) is Joel, the handsome gym teacher.

Sara Gilbert (Roseanne, The Big Bang Theory) is introverted teacher Irene, who admires Meredith’s nerve, and Kristin Davis (Sex and the City) is Ginny, the tightly wound faculty president who suspects Meredith’s motives.

Meredith may be vapid, self-centered and the worst teacher ever, but there’s an attempt to show she has a heart of gold. She’s at least up-front about her actions. Is that enough on which to base a sitcom? We’ll see.

Black Box premieres at 9 p.m. today on ABC. I give it bonus points for trying to do something different for a medical show. Here’s the background.

Dr. Catherine Black (Kelly Reilly, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) is a world-famous neurologist (ABC labels her “beautiful and brilliant”) who each week attempts to unravel the mysteries of the brain as the medical director of a ground-breaking neurological center known as “The Cube.”

Catherine has a big secret: She’s bipolar. (Think Homeland’s Carrie Mathison.)

Only one person knows Catherine’s secret - her psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hartramph (Vanessa Redgrave).

ABC brags, “Catherine and the staff of The Cube will constantly be challenged by cases never seen before on television. The patients have rare, highly visual, often hallucinogenic and startling conditions, which we will see through their eyes as Catherine diagnoses and treats them.

“The medical stories are moving, bizarre and a visual feast. It’s a brand new, cutting-edge ABC drama series.”

Translation: Look for the special effects.

Does that pique your interest? There will be at least one neurological case per episode. And beware - when Catherine goes off her meds, she becomes a very naughty, naughty girl.

Along for all this cutting-edge drama are “the men in Catherine’s life.”

Will (David Ajala) is a sexy, handsome new chef with his own restaurant in Brooklyn. He’s looking for love and commitment.

Dr. Ian Bickman (Ditch Davey) is the charismatic, womanizing chief of neurosurgery who would never consider settling down until he meets Catherine.

Dr. Owen Morely (Terry Kinney) is the chief of staff, Catherine’s former teacher, her current boss and mentor, and a gentleman.

Joshua Black (David Chisum) is Catherine’s older brother and her closest family confidant. Their bipolar mother committed suicide.

There will be 13 episodes in this midseason hopeful.

Revolution lives. I’ve gotten a dozen emails from panicked(and peeved) fans asking where Revolution has gone. The NBC series disappeared after the April 2 episode.

Never fear, the action adventure has not been canceled (yet) and it did not end after Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) killed her former lover Jason (JD Pardo). He was brainwashed and had to be put down.

The next new episode airs at 7 p.m. Monday. Hopefully, the final four episodes will ease us toward closure since the series is on most critics’ doomed list.

More good stuff. FX has picked up 13 episodes for a Season 3 of the outstanding Cold War spy thriller The Americans.

The adult drama (sex, violence, nudity), starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as Soviet sleeper agents, is one of the most fascinating on TV.

As is often the case, the critics are ahead of the viewing public with this series. Only 3.1 million tune in to each episode. If you’ve missed it, check it out at 9 p.m. Wednesday. The Season 2 finale will be May 21.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email: mstorey@arkansasonline.com

Weekend, Pages 32 on 04/24/2014

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