Thursday, February 07, 2008

Stay Out Of This 'Jungle'

One of the purposes of this blog is that I watch bad TV so you don't have to. No need to thank me; just send in your cash donations.

I did it earlier this week when I had to sit through the awful pilot of "Welcome To The Captain" and I did again for tonight's debut of "Lipstick Jungle," (NBC, 10 p.m.), the network's answer to ABC's "Cashmere Mafia" and HBO's "Sex & The City."

Since NBC sent me about a dozen copies of the pilot, I spread them around the office. The most positive review I got was from Belle Magazine editor Stephanie Hartley, who said "Jungle" isn't as bad as "Mafia." Since ABC didn't even bother to send me "Mafia" and has done little to promote the series, I'm guessing that's probably a pretty good assessment.

But boy, is "Jungle" not good. I mean, I wasn't just bored by the content; I actually found it insulting to my intelligence.

"Jungle" follows the adventures of three women in New York: A powerful publisher (Kim Raver), who feels trapped in her dull marriage; a movie executive (Brooke Shields), trying to balance career and family; and a fashion designer (Lindsay Price), coming off a disastrous show.

Written by "Sex & The City" author Candace Bushnell, it's supposed to show these women in a light where we are supposed to feel some empathy for them, but wow, I hated them all quite a lot.

The Raver subplot, about a woman hitting the glass ceiling at work, feels like it would have been dated material a decade ago, particularly with the dialogue from the men. Shields' husband (Paul Blackthorne) is nothing but whiner with an inferiority complex about his wife's success, and the subplot in which Shields saves a movie deal for her company is beyond ridiculous. And Price's character is made to look vapid, though the subplot where she is romanced by a billionaire (Andrew McCarthy) manages a few moments of charm.

NBC sent me two more episodes of "Jungle," but there's no way you could make me sit through them. And since there is quite a lot of good stuff on Thursday nights, you the viewer have much better options. If you find yourself missing "Sex & the City," buy the DVDs.

"SCRUBS" UPDATE: TVGuide's Michael Ausiello has an interview with "Scrubs" creator Bill Lawrence, who says he thinks he can get five more episodes done assuming the strike ends this month. Whether or not he's allowed to is up to NBC head honcho Ben Silverman. Ausiello is asking fans of the show to post comments on his blog to support the show. You can do so here:

I also suggest going to and posting comments there. I'd love for this show to end on the right foot.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: As I said, viewers tonight have much better options than "Lipstick Jungle."

To wit, Episode 2 of "Lost" (ABC, 9 p.m.), in which we meet the new cast members, AKA the boat people - Jeff Fahey, Jeremy Davies, Rebecca Mader and Ken Leung. "Lost" has been a bit hit-or-miss with its cast editions; for every Mr. Eko or Ben Linus or Juliette, we've gotten an Ana Lucia or a Nikki & Paolo. (Of course, when they kill off even the bad characters, it has made for great TV.) Personally, I'm excited about the changes. If you missed last week's season premiere, it's being repeated at 8 p.m.

It's followed by a new episode of the promising "Eli Stone" (ABC, 10 p.m.)

Equally exciting tonight is "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.), which features the return of Green Arrow (Justin Hartley). And what would Green Arrow be without Black Canary (Alaina Huffman)? I'm hoping for the fishnets...

It's followed by arguably TV's most underrated series, "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.)

Preceding "Lipstick Jungle" is "Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 9 p.m.) which has bordered on the bizarre this season, no more so than last week's showdown between Piers Morgan and Vincent Pastore. What the hell was that about?

Finally, speaking of so-called reality, "Survivor" kicks off its newest season by sticking 10 fan favorites against 10 superfans in Micronesia.


jewfed said...
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zodin2008 said...

Phillip, this is definitely a night of Television we can wholeheartedly agree on - the pair over at CW (and agree again that 'Supernatural' is the most underrated show on TV) and the pair on ABC.

Not to mentioned we still have some "Brothers 7 Sisters" episodes from season 1 to watch from my Netflix DVD at home.

Between "Brothers & Sisters", "The Wire" and "Undeclared", I was 3 for 3 in shows I picked through netflix, because of this horrible strike.

As for Bill Lawrence, I can only pray for ONCE the awful Ben Silverman allows "Scrubs" to go out on its own terms.

Thanks for the scathing review of "Jungle" - I had intended to ignore it, anyway.

Can't wait for Lipstick Jungle! said...

Can we really take the advice from a seemingly bitter and overly pessimistic male?

I think I will watch it just because you gave it a bad review.

Phillip Ramati said...

Seemingly bitter and overly pessimistic male - that pretty much sums me up, though I'd drop the "seemingly."

Look, if you want to give up an hour of your life, by all means, watch away. I try to do a public service by helping people avoid bad TV, but you are under no obligation to take my advice. I will point out that I'm hardly the only TV critic to give "Jungle" a poor rating.

zodin2008 said...

To "Can't wait for Lipstick Jungle"-

I can vouch for Phillip being a pessimistic male, however, let it be pointed out that he gave a positive review back in September of "Women's Murder Club", so he's shown himself to try & be fair when it comes to programs that don't necessarily fit his Demographic.

Jen said...

I have read the book, "Lipstick Jungle" and have watched the pilot of the TV show based on the book.

As much as I would like to say that it empowers women by showing them in powerful positions, I just can't.

First of all, I didn't find any of the characters to be particularly likable. Each portrayal of the women is over the top: from the super bitchy powerful woman to the vulnerable I-just-want-to-hug-my-girlfriends woman.

Second, all of the men in the show are whiny or perceived as being incompetent pricks. Just because we want to lift women up, doesn't mean we have to knock men down.

The pilot pretty much follows the plot of the book to a tee. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that I didn't enjoy the book that much either (mostly for the same reasons as above), so that probably had some influence.

Some women may like this show, but as demoralizing as it is to men, it's a guarantee all of them will hate it.

Phillip Ramati said...

As Zod points out, I try not to dismiss shows on preconceived notions. Women's Murder Club, for example, was indeed a pleasant surprise. But for that matter, so was Ugly Betty last year. I mean, I never thought I'd love a show about the fashion industry.

And the things Jen points out are precisely the reason I hated "Jungle." These women come off as caricatures, and you have no sympathy for them at all. It doesn't help that the actresses - all of them talented - are given some of the most stilted and trite dialogue I've heard in a while.

But the caveat I give with any show I review is that, in the end, people can only judge the shows for themselves.

can't wait for lipstick jungle! said...

I read the book to Jen, and I really think you (and Phillip) are looking waaaay to far into this show. The book was supposed to be entertaining, as this show is supposed to be.

All the rest of it, well, you both need to calm down and take it for what it is supposed to be - entertainment. I don't think anything called "Lipstick Jungle" is going to be revolutionary in defining men's and women's roles. You both need to lighten up!

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, can't wait, I can't speak for Jen and nor did I read the book. But the very first question I ask myself after watching something is Was I entertained?

With Jungle, it was a resounding no. I wasn't looking for a realistic look at high-powered, working women. I was looking for someone vaguely likeable and a plotline that wasn't trite. I didn't find it in the 'Jungle.'

zodin2008 said...

Can't Wait for Lipstick Jungle,

Let me also add that the reviews across the board from pretty much all the major national Television reviewers - Matt Roush, Maureen Ryan, Ellen Gray, Alan Sepinwall, Robert Bianco, Tim Goodman, etc. - have in fact panned this show.

Phillip's negative review is simply one of a glut of them.

I haven't read one positive review and I have read at least 8-10 of them online.

Jen said...

Believe me, I don't need to lighten up any more. I am the one who thinks Hilary Duff movies like 'A Cinderella Story' and TV shows like Dawson's Creek were awesome!

Watch it yourself. If you like it, that's cool. I probably like all sorts of things you don't. Different strokes for different folks.

Can't Wait For Lipstick Jungle said...

For the sake of finality - I did watch the show. And I will watch it again. Some of the best shows needed time to let their characters develop.

Maybe the show isn't meant for bitter males or young girls (or girls with tastes that lay in the Hillary Duff range.)

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, can't wait, glad you enjoyed it and will continue to do so.

I'm guessing it isn't meant for bitter males or young girls, either. I'm just wondering who it is meant for.