Sometimes on TV, promising ideas can turn into lousy shows (I think the time has come for me to officially give up on "The Philanthropist") and sometimes ideas that sound totally kooky can turn into great shows (the best example, in my opinion, being "Buffy the Vampire Slayer.").
So I learned a long time ago not to judge a TV show by its premise. Still I was a little wary of "Drop Dead Diva," which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on Lifetime. In the pilot, size two model Deb (Brooke D’Orsay) is killed in a car crash but decides she’s not ready to be dead. So she jumps back to earth but ,accidentally, into the wrong body. Suddenly a skinny woman who believes looks are the most important thing in life finds herself inside a smart, plus size lawyer named Jane (Brooke Elliott).
Sounds kind of goofy doesn’t it? But the pilot totally works and that’s because Elliott, who is probably best known as a Broadway stage actress (she starred in "Taboo" and toured with "Wicked"), is absolutely wonderful as Jane. "Drop Dead Diva" is definitely one of those shows where if you think about it too much, it doesn’t work. (Like how exactly did this mix up lead to Deb’s personality with Jane’s smarts?) But Elliott pulls off the tricky role of simultaneously playing both Deb and Jane with grace and ease. You'll definitely root for her.
And yes there’s a message here. The show explores how society views overweight people and how our culture often values exterior appearance over interior quality of character. But it does this without getting on a soapbox and preaching. First and foremost, I found the pilot entertaining and engaging. Jane’s legal case was compelling. Watching her realize that she knows the law and how to litigate was delightful. The fact that TV finally has a lead female character who is not a size two was, quite simply, a wonderful added bonus.
At work Jane encounters Deb’s fiancé Grayson (Jackson Hurst) who has just joined the law firm. It doesn’t quite make sense that Grayson would have been in love with the shallow Deb but again I chose not to over think the show. Mostly because I think it’s going to be a very interesting to see the Grayson/Jane relationship play out over the rest of the season.
Need one more reason to tune in Sunday night? Margaret Cho is understated but fun as Jane’s assistant Teri.
Four out of five stars. I can’t wait to hear what you think about "Drop Dead Diva." Definitely email me and let me know your thoughts.
Quotes of the Week
"I’m trained to take a bullet if necessary but I’m not sure how to stop a dead Italian cougar." Pete on "Warehouse 13."
"I’ll see you at tryouts. I really hope that you don’t suck." Chastity to Bianca on "10 Things I Hate About You."
"Now we’ve got to train with the bitch of the beam." Kaylie about Lauren on "Make It or Break It."
"You’re so great at imagining the worst. That’s part of why you’re good at your job. Try just for a minute. Imagining something better." Fritz to Brenda about the possibility of them having children on "The Closer."
"You realize you’re me now." Ben to George about the fact that Anne is pregnant with another man’s baby on "The Secret Life of the American Teenager."
Ask TV Gal
You said Nico Tortella, Razor on "Make It or Break It," will be on the CW’s "The Beautiful Life" in the fall. Does that mean pizza boy can't win the love triangle on MIOBI? Bummer. I was thinking he'd be the Cappie. Lisa
I checked in with ABC Family about this and Nico won’t be back for the rest of the season. On the show, he’s on a roadie job, but in real life we know he’s filming "The Beautiful Life." The folks at ABC Family tell me there will be a love triangle with Emily, Leo (Kaylie’s older brother), and a boy we’ve seen before.
That’s all for today. If you missed it when it aired, Lifetime is repeating "Maneater" at 3 p.m. on Sunday so set your DVRs. I’m back on Monday with my dream Emmy ballot. Also coming next week a look at the return of "Leverage" and the premiere of the new TNT drama "Dark Blue." Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a wonderful weekend. Talk to you on Monday.
Follow me on Twitter.