Unexpectedly good -- the new CW show 'Life Unexpected'

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Let's be honest.

Some of you get mighty cranky when I talk about any show that airs on the CW. Mighty cranky. So if you're one of those people, you might want to skip down to the Highlights of Week section. OR you could pretend like I'm talking about a WB show because that's what watching "Life Unexpected," premiering tonight at 9 p.m. on the CW felt like. The show took me back to the "Felicity," "Everwood," "Gilmore Girls" years when shows were smart not smutty, the dialogue was earnest but not cheesy, and I didn't worry about the fate of future generations while watching the show (as I've said many times, if teens really do behave like they do on "Gossip Girl" it really is best that I don't know about it).

It's been quite awhile since we've had a family drama that I think both adults and teen viewers will enjoy. Shiri Appleby stars as Cate Cassidy, a woman in her early thirties who discovers that the daughter she gave up for adoption when she was in high school never was adopted and instead placed in an endless loop of foster care homes. Think of it as what would have happened if Lorelai hadn't kept Rory and Rory had returned 16 years later to find her birth parents. Cate does a morning radio show with her fiancé Ryan (Kerr Smith) and has a nice orderly life until Baze (Kristoffer Polaha), her one-night stand from high school shows up with their daughter Lux (Britt Robertson). Lux only wants Cate and Baze's help in emancipating her from the foster care system but there wouldn't be a TV show if they allowed that to happen.

In the first episode, everyone hits their character personality traits a little hard. Baze is the manboy who never quite grew up. Cate is the woman who wants her perfect organized world in perfect organized order and Lux is a teen wise beyond her years. But as the episodes progress, the characters settle down and what emerges is a delightful drama that I got hooked into. And you can't help but root for Robertson's Lux - she manages to be vulnerable and strong, a survivor and never a victim and witty without being pretentious. All that and the show has set up a nice little love triangle where I find myself rooting for both men - my favorite kind of TV love triangle. Four out of five stars. After you watch the show, let me know what you think.

Highlights of the Week Ahead

All times listed are Eastern Standard Time for January 18 - 24

Here's hoping you liked last night's "24" enough to come back for night two (Monday, FOX, 8 p.m.).

Brandon Routh begins his guest star stint on "Chuck" this Monday at 8 p.m. on NBC.

What did you think of "Human Target?" The show moves to Wednesday night at 9 p.m. on FOX this week. And just to keep us on our toes, next week the show swaps places with "American Idol" and airs at 8 p.m.

When "White Collar" went on a brief hiatus in December it ended with the shocking scene that certainly made it look like Peter (Tim DeKay) was the FBI agent keeping Kate from Neal (Matthew Bomer). We were all more than a little worried because the best part of the series is the rapport between Peter and Neal. As the show returns (Tuesday, USA, 10 p.m.), Neal goes undercover to bring down a "boiler room" like company selling fake stock. But like us, he's a little suspicious of Peter. I won't tell you what happens but I will say that I liked it, it made sense and, like any good TV show, the resolution didn't leave me completely satisfied. I still have lots of questions. Oh and yes I'm still waiting for Tiffani Thiessen to have much more to do on the series.

"Being Erica" is back for a second season Wednesday at 10 p.m. on SOApnet. If you live in Canada and have already seen the second season, I am so jealous. Because from the premiere, I have the feeling that the second season is going to be even better that the first. Picking up where the first season cliffhanger left off, Erica (Erin Karpluk) finds herself with a new therapist and in search of Dr. Tom (Michael Riley). I won't say much more because I don't want to spoil anything but the series goes in a new direction that makes total sense and left me wanting more. I can't wait to hear what you think. Oh and major fun fact, Karpluk  will soon appear on "Life Unexpected" as the radio station manager.

Speaking of WB shows, remember "Jack & Bobby?" Well I loved that show and Matt Long, who played Jack on the series, is back as Dylan Hewitt in the new ABC drama "The Deep End," premiering Thursday at 8 p.m. on ABC. The series follows first year associates (in addition to Long, there's Leah Pipes, Tina Majorino, Ben Lawson and Mechad Brooks) as they navigate their way around a cutthroat law firm. And we certainly didn't need ABC to tell us this show has a lot in common with "Grey's Anatomy." Just swap law for medicine and you've got yourself a show. There's lots of bed-hopping, fresh faces having to stand up against the established senior partners and earnest speeches about the importance of the legal system. Some of the characters are beyond preposterous - it's hard to believe that Liam (Lawson) would keep his job after all his sexual escapades. I like the cast quite a bit (particularly Long and Majorino) but the pilot seemed really hollow. Maybe it will improve with time, but for now two and a half out of five stars.

Why is this episode of "Burn Notice" (Thursday, USA, 10 p.m.) so great? In addition to having Michael, Fiona, Sam back to protecting the innocent, Tyne Daly guest stars which means Sharon Gless gets to reunite with her "Cagney & Lacey" co-star. It is such good times to have those two together again.

The series finale of "Dollhouse" will now air next Friday (January 29) as FOX and the rest of the networks are airing the "Hope for Haiti" telethon to support relief aid in Haiti this Friday at 8 p.m..

Lucy Lawless and Andy Whitfield star in the new Starz series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," premiering Friday at 10 p.m. This is a show that distinctly falls under the "not for Amy" category. It is extremely violent in an almost cartoonish way (slow motion, shockingly bright red blood, body part flying everywhere) with a lot of gratuitous nudity. That all might be fine if the plot was enough to draw me in. You would think it would be given the story of a slave who led a rebellion against the Romans is one of history's most famous but somehow the plot gets lost amidst all that blood and sand.

Sandra Bullock will present her "The Proposal" co-star Betty White with the Lifetime Achievement Award during "The Screen Actors Guild Awards" Saturday at 8 p.m. on both TNT and TBS.

Besides the need to give Kitty a good story line, does it make sense to anyone that she would chose to run for Senator? Didn't she just turn down a job last year because she wanted to spend more time with her family? And now she's going to go on the campaign trail? We'll have to wait until January 31 to see how Kitty's campaign is faring. "Brothers & Sisters" doesn't air this week.

That's all for today. I'm back on Friday to talk about the third season premiere of "Damages" and this week's familiar faces and quotes of the week. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week or a topic for discussion? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com or follow me on Twitter. Have a great week. Talk to you on Friday. 

Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal

 

 

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