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Fall '99: "Jack & Jill" and "Work With Me"

When I was a young lad, my idea of a good love story was watching the squiggles of pay-per-view porn channels waiting for that short and fleeting moment when you could actually see something nasty.

I can mention this now, because my taste in entertainment has gotten a bit more sophisticated since then. I am truly a cosmopolitan man: I know the difference between a fine Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir, I own Miles Davis' CD box set, I understand the subtle nuances of the poetry of Pablo Neruda, and dammit, I can even buy my own porn now.

Yes, I have truly grown up.

Which brings me to the WB's Jack & Jill. Because this is a show for grown-ups.

I liked it in the same way that I liked the first season of Lois & Clark before ABC ruined it. I liked it the same way I liked Cupid or thirtysomething. Both of those shows were quirky, intelligent, sexy and captured something about adulthood that rang true for me.

It would be easy to dismiss Jack & Jill as yet another of those shows about attractive twentysomethings living in Manhattan and fretting about relationships, careers, and hard choices one has to make as adult.

Yes, it has confessional voice-overs. Yes, it has characters living in New York apartments that they couldn't possibly afford. And yes, there are no people of color.

But somehow, despite -- and maybe because -- of all of this, it works. The characters are compelling, and the dilemmas they face aren't clear-cut and easily solved. The writing is snappy and engaging.

Jack & Jill has the promise of being a wonderful show. The challenge will be living up to it.

On the other hand, Work with Me, the new CBS show starring Nancy Travis and Kevin Pollak, left a strange taste in my mouth.

Part of me felt that the show was an amusing half-hour, and another part of me felt largely unsatisfied. Like eating a soufflé. Pollak and Travis have a good comfortable chemistry about them, reminiscent of Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser in their heyday. And yet, that easy interplay didn't exactly translate into easy laughs.

The main problem I had with the show is that the premiere dealt largely with setting up the premise and introducing us to the supporting characters.

The show seems like it could be a decent show in the vein of King of Queens, but if the rest of the episodes are as dry the premiere, I'd have to say I won't be watching.


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