'Apartment 23' — and 6 other TV shows worth a visit
A review of the ABC sitcom "Don't Turst the B — in Apt. 23," plus a list of other shows of note the week of Monday, April 9, including "Glee," "Deadliest Catch," "Justified" and "Girls."
San Francisco Chronicle
This week's premiers and finalesIt's a big week for television. In addition to "Don't Trust the B — in Apt. 23," which debuts at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on ABC, a number of notable shows premiere, return or conclude successful seasons.
'Smash': Uma Thurman guest stars on the new series featuring Bellevue's Megan Hilty, 10 p.m. Monday on NBC.
'Glee': The popular high-school musical returns, 8 p.m. Tuesday on Fox.
'Deadliest Catch': The reality show set in the Bering Sea comes back for an eighth season, 9 p.m. Tuesday on Discovery.
'Justified': This is the season finale of a show based on the Elmore Leonard character Raylan Givens, a deputy U.S. marshal. 10 p.m. Tuesday on FX.
'America's Best Dance Crew': Local dance group RNG is featured this season, which premieres at 10 p.m. Wednesday on MTV.
'Girls': Twenty-somethings try to make it in NYC, beginning at 10:30 p.m. Sunday on HBO.
Tonight in Prime Time
ABC seems to have this weird fascination with the B-word and an even weirder fear of actually saying it. First it gave us "GCB," based on the book "Good Christian Bitches," and now comes "Don't Trust the B — in Apartment 23."
What's next, "Dancing With the B — s?"
But spelled out or not, "B — ," debuting at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on a week packed with TV premieres, is a sassy and welcome addition to ABC's sitcom lineup. It's just too bad that it will initially remind viewers of CBS' "Two Broke Girls."
Like that hit, freshman show, "B — " is about a naive blonde who moves in with a street-smart brunette, but, in all the ways that count, the comparisons end there.
In this case, June Colbern (Dreama Walker) arrives in New York, fresh from Indiana, to take a new job with a high-powered brokerage firm, only to find the company shutting down and the CEO under arrest when she shows up for her first day of work.
With few resources, she answers roommate ads until she finds a seemingly compatible young woman named Chloe (Krysten Ritter) and moves in. Only then does she find out she is sharing space with the roommate from hell.
Chloe, it seems, has been running a scam for some time, as her pal James Van Der Beek helpfully summarizes, where she lures other roommates to move in, takes their first and last month's rent and then proceeds to drive them crazy until, after only a few days, they move out.
That's just one example of Chloe's unapologetically bad behavior. She conveniently gets a 13-year-old kid tipsy to make him spill dirt about June's fiancé, Steven (Tate Ellington), hides questionable Chinese energy pills in the furniture to sell and thinks nothing of walking out of a bar without paying for her drinks.
Of course, Chloe has a heart of gold, albeit gold plate, and June soon wins her over by toughening up and resolving to lose some of her countrified naiveté about big city living.
As for James Van Der Beek, he is played by James Van Der Beek, and he's terrific, as are the two actresses in the lead roles. JVDB plays an exaggerated (one hopes) version of himself as a pompous, self-involved dolt who fancies himself a Shakespearean actor.
He also dresses up like Indiana Jones' father to teach acting classes to college students who just want him to do speeches from "Dawson's Creek" or tell them what it was like kissing Katie Holmes. Clips from fake commercials he's done are hysterical.
That's the setup for the show, but what makes it all sing is the writing by series creator Nahnatchka Khan ("American Dad"). It's also what separates "B — " from "2 Broke Girls." Khan's sense of humor is outrageous and, for TV, rather daring.
She has a deft touch with one-liners, such as quantifying the 11 years June and Steven have been dating as equivalent to "about 600 Nicolas Cage movies." But what's really daring about the show is that while Chloe is a borderline sociopath and June is forced to give as good as she gets in order to coexist with her, the humor doesn't fall into the all too prevalent "nasty trap" in TV sitcoms.
The result is not only that the show is funny, but that we actually like both June and Chloe. While June may look as though she was manufactured by Mattel, she's smart, determined and fearless.
And while Chloe may have the moral fiber of a praying mantis, she's also smart, determined and fearless. More to the point, when the chips are down, she has June's back.
Any very good new show has its own big shoes to fill as it continues its first season. Good shows have to stay good, which means they have to be inventive week after week.
You can trust that this "B — " is pretty d — funny.