Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair
You know how Ellis, the smarmy assistant-from-hell on Smash, has become the most reviled character on TV this season? That's only because most people haven't been subjected yet to Best Friends Forever, the poisonous new sitcom NBC is launching tonight (8:30/7:30c) in the deep, deep rabbit hole of its woeful Wednesday night lineup — which has already claimed the much more enjoyable (though virtually invisible) Bent, ending its run tonight (9/8c) after only three weeks of back-to-back episodes.
Bent is a low-key charmer that deserved better. Best Friends Forever is a low-rent disaster that should never have seen the light of prime time. There are characters you love to hate, and then there's the hateful Jessica (the unbearably shrill Jessica St. Clair), a blonde Medusa who turns every punch line to stone. Keeping with this season's tradition, there's a vagina joke within the first minute, as Jessica screeches via Skype about her bikini wax to her cross-country BFF Lennon (Lennon Parham). Before you can begin to wonder what possessed these actors to go by their own names, Jessica has been served divorce papers — by two-day Ground Fed Ex, adding injury to insult — and impulsively decides to move from San Francisco back to Brooklyn to cry on Lennon's shoulder.
The complication, and the aggravation: Lennon is happily cohabitating with Joe (Luka Jones), and three's unpleasant company as jealous Jessica calls dibs on Lennon's time and attention, crowding their apartment with her junk and selfish attitude. Joe's attempts at sympathy are rebuffed — "Is there somewhere perhaps that he might go?" Jessica hisses — and his spirit is deflated almost as quickly as his blow-up Wolverines chair. Joe being your typical man-boy, designing video games when he's not anticipating "Lazy Sundays" with "monster chili" and Scoops. Jessica protests, "I used to be fun," but we see no evidence of that in this miserable misfire. BFF is about as fun as a multiple hernia operation.
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FINALE FEVER: Seems we just got started, but as previously noted, NBC's Bent is already pulling up stakes after tonight, and if the home renovation never gets finished, at least the final two episodes (at 9/8c and 9:30/8:30c) will provide a nice afterglow for those lucky few who discovered it. Pete the lackadaisical contractor (the likable David Walton) is still pitching "WOO," described here as a "Window Of Opportunity" (cute), but as his client/object of unrequited desire Alex (Amanda Peet) responds in front of his whole wacky crew, "There's no window. There's no door. There's a wall with a hole." The walls begin to come down in the second episode as Alex can't stop thinking about Pete while away with her bland but devoted boyfriend Ben (Matt Letscher), and it all ends on a note of sitcommus interruptus that's unlikely ever to be resolved. Nice while it lasted, though.
Or, as is more likely, you could tune in for the early season finale of ABC's tireless (though to me often tiresome) joke factory Happy Endings (9:31/8:31c), making way for next week's midseason tryout of Don't Trust the B- in Apartment 23. (Which only seems fair, since this is the time of year when Happy Endings premiered a year ago.) The episode is built around a gay wedding — don't be silly, not of Max (Adam Pally), but of flamboyant Derrick and Eric. Watching Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) try to conjure a "Brangelina" name for the grooms is the sort of litmus test that may determine how strongly this quippy show speaks to you. Often in abbrev.
I'm more in tune with the frantic Derrick, who breathlessly interrupts during a pre-wedding crisis: "Hey, hey, hey, I don't have time for this endless bantering, OK, the back and forth, it's exhausting, I don't even know what you're saying half the time, so slow down." I'd add "shut up," but that's probably because I still haven't forgiven Happy Endings (not its fault) for supplanting Cougar Town on Wednesdays, subjecting one of my cult faves to its current quasi-limbo dance toward imminent cancellation, barring a miracle.
There are a few stirrings of actual plot, as serially single Penny (Casey Wilson) makes a connection at the Skype table — which is, to be fair, a funny premise — and while fate throws one character an unhappy curve ball, others lurch toward a most unexpected and tentative happy ending. Plus: Mandonna!
And finally, an official series finale as The CW bids farewell after nine (!) seasons to One Tree Hill, long after its breakout leads left, with a two-hour episode (8/7c).
WHAT ELSE IS ON? From the kids' corner, with the holiday weekend in mind, Nickelodeon presents the new Dora's Easter Adventure (11 am/10c), in which Dora & friends go in search of the Hip-Hop Bunny's basket of eggs after Swiper (what else) swipes it. ... Comedy Central's South Park (10/9c) also takes on Easter/Passover with an episode ominously titled "Jewpacabra," as Cartman warns the town not to participate in the annual egg hunt, citing rumors of a fearsome beast in the woods. ... It's '80s night on American Idol (Fox, 8/7c). Will Tommy Hilfiger give them styles to match? ... Blindside alert (but on whom?): Judging from the promos, which is always dangerous, it looks like the women of the new Tikiano tribe may be plotting a coup against the guys on Survivor (CBS, 8/7c). ... Betty White's toothless hidden-camera show Off Their Rockers returns on a weekly basis (NBC, 8/7c). We love her anyway. ... On the other end of the age spectrum, TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras is back (10/9c), where at least they can use the excuse that they're not old enough to know better. ... Supernatural genre faves Robert "Freddie Krueger" Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Juliet "Drusilla" Landau (Buffy) guest on Criminal Minds (CBS, 9/8c), directed by Matthew Gray Gubler, in an episode about ritualistic Gothic-style murders in Oregon. ... With the NCAA tournament just ended, Bob Costas moderates a live town-hall discussion on the state of college athletics in the premiere of Costas Tonight: Live from 30 Rock (NBC Sports Network, 10/9c).
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