I’d like to return Jezebel James

I never watched Gilmore Girls. It just wasn’t my type of thing. I like my drama to have more of a sci-fi twist (Buffy, Lost) or at least allow me not to think (Law and Order, Numb3rs). But it always looked cute and funny, in a Juno-overwritten-dialogue-nobody-says-in-real-life type of way. A lot of the charm was credited to the show’s creator and head writer (for most of the series) Amy Sherman-Palladino, who also is behind the new Fox series The Return of Jezebel James.

Having just watched suffered through JJ, I have to wonder how this could come from the same person who did a beloved show like Gilmore Girls. The characters are all so shrill and deadpan that it felt like a middle school production of Death of a Salesman.

With fewer laughs.

The cast is great, on paper. You have Parker Posey as a children’ book editor who is divorced, bitter, tightly wound, but… lovable? I think that was what I was supposed to get from the character. It never quite translated. Parker’s character wants a baby, but can’t have one herself. So she seeks out her hippie sister (Lauren Ambrose, looking NOTHING like Posey) to be her surrogate. They fight and bicker but then bond.

Except, they don’t I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show where the actors seemed at such odds with the script. Parker Posey is supposed to be playing a harried everywoman with a big heart, but she reads her lines with a monotone worthy of Ben Stein. No inflection. No warmth. Even the laughtrack seemed unsure where the jokes were supposed to be.

Ambrose tries to make up for Posey’s underacting by constantly reacting with big eyes gasps, as if she’s trying to be an anime character come to life.

On the old Whose Line is it Anyway (the Brit one, natch) there was a game where two contestants were given different scripts to read. They had to go back and forth, one line at a time, trying to make it seem like they were in the same play. TROJJ was like a strange reverse of that. Two actors reading from the same play, but making it seem like they are in totally different movies.

I don’t know if the problem is the script, which has far too much backstory and far too few jokes, or the actors or the direction. But it was a mess.

Jezebel wasn’t likely to make it to the fall sched anyway, especially since the episode order was cut and the show is buried on Friday night. The real question will be if it can make it to next week.

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