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Nothing exciting in newest batch of network shows

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In the past few days, I've gotten caught up on several new shows that have recently debuted: sitcoms "Best Friends Forever" and "Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23" and the dramas "Touch" and "Scandal." Overall, it's an underwhelming group. None of them rank among the worst new shows of the season, but they're all closer to the bottom of the list than the top.

The best I can say about any of them is, "Eh, it's OK," which applies to "Touch" (9 p.m. Thursday, Fox) and "Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23" (9:30 p.m. Wednesday, ABC). "Best Friends Forever" (8:30 p.m. Wednesday, NBC) and "Scandal" (10 p.m. Thursday, ABC) are more "No, thanks; I'll pass."

"Touch" was one of the most buzzed-about pilots of the year, in part because it was Kiefer Sutherland's return to TV. I don't particularly like him in this role, though. As the widowed father of an autistic son, he has a hard time deciding who his character is. At times, he's a meek sad sack, lost in trying to make sense of his son's world and afraid to make waves; at others, he's strong-willed, unafraid to take charge -- and even risk his life -- to do the right thing.

As for the plot, I enjoy seeing how all the stories interconnect each week, but often, getting to that connection isn't all that interesting. It reminds me of a few books I read for school; I liked them in the end, but it was a chore to get them started. Those were for grades, though, and I had to finish, whether I liked them or not. Your TV viewing shouldn't be that laborious.

I was interested in "Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23" as soon as I heard about it, simply because it stars Krysten Ritter, who was excellent as Jesse's girlfriend on "Breaking Bad." Here, though, she suffers the same character indecisiveness as Sutherland on "Touch." As the titular "B," she's frequently obnoxious and grating, but she also has moments where a better -- or at least more fun -- side of her shows through.

She's at her best playing off Dreama Walker as her naïve, new-to-New York roommate. When the two are together, you can see the show's potential, but is potential enough? I've watched several shows this year longer than was worthwhile because of the promise of what they could have been. The second episode was a definite improvement over the first, so as long as it keeps going in that direction, I'll keep tuning in. I've wasted enough time, though, on shows that failed to live up to their potential to stick around for too long unrewarded on this.

Chemistry is front and center on "Best Friends Forever," where it's obvious that stars/creators Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair are indeed BFFs. That bond is the biggest thing the show has going for it and what saves it from being a complete disaster (the jokes certainly don't). You can tell they probably have a blast when they're together, but just because that's the case doesn't mean the relationship needs to be televised.

"Scandal" isn't a disaster, either, although it does feature plenty of them since it's about a D.C. crisis-management firm (aka "fixers"). I watched the second episode first and felt a little overwhelmed at the frantic pace and rapid-fire dialogue, especially at the beginning. I thought it was because I started an episode behind, but no, the breakneck pace is the same in the pilot, too. Whether it's the show's intent or not, I felt like Quinn (Katie Lowes), the firm's newest member who's thrown into the middle of things without fully knowing what's going on. Also, Krysten Ritter could probably take lessons from this cast, because two of the three female characters are total Bs and the guys aren't any better.

May Sweeps is coming soon, and these shows will battle against established ones that are pulling out all the stops in a last grab for big ratings this season. I don't think it will be much of a competition.

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Series premieres: "Kathy," 10 p.m. Thursday, Bravo (Kathy Griffin talk show); "Front Row Center, 9 p.m. Friday, PBS2 (concert series; opener has The Secret Sisters, T-Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello and Jakob Dylan); "Jennie Garth: A Little Bit Country," 9 p.m. Friday, CMT (life on the actress' farm); "The L.A. Complex," 9 p.m. Tuesday, CW (drama about young adults seeking fame in Hollywood); "Total Blackout," 10 p.m. Wednesday, Syfy (game show with challenges completed in darkness).

Season premieres: "The Singing Bee," 8 p.m. Friday, CMT; "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," 10 p.m. Sunday, Bravo.

New: "NYC 22," 10 p.m. Sunday, CBS (rookie cop drama, started April 15).

Moved: "Private Practice," 10 p.m. Tuesday, ABC (started April 17).

Returning: "Parks and Recreation," 9:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC (replacing "Up All Night," which finished on April 12).

Encore: "Eureka" final season premiere, 8 p.m. Monday, Syfy (new episode follows).

Specials: "Fox 25th Anniversary Special," 8 p.m. Sunday, Fox (retrospective); "Firelight," 9 p.m. Sunday, ABC (TV movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr.); "Masterpiece Classic: Birdsong," 9 p.m. Sunday, PBS (adaptation of novel about a British WWI lieutenant); "Dance Floor Confidential: Behind the Scenes of 'Dancing With the Stars,' " 10 p.m. Monday, ABC.

Of note: Fox airs the "Married . . . with Children" pilot (from 1987), 7 p.m. Sunday, Fox; Whitney Houston's songs are featured on "Glee," 8 p.m. Tuesday, Fox.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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