Krysten Ritter and James Van Der Beek
Forget about the bad girl. Embrace the Beek. As in James Van Der Beek, the long-ago Dawson's Creek heartthrob who spoofs his own quasi-celebrity status with such ruthless zeal he elevates ABC's latest odd-couple comedy into a surreal stratosphere of anything-goes outrageousness.
"The Beek" (playing himself more or less, but often less) is the ironic third wheel, a "straight gay BFF," in ABC's fractious not-really-buddies sitcom Don't Trust the B— in Apartment 23 (Wednesday, 9:31/8:31c) in which a perky Hoosier hopeful (Dreama Walker as June) moves in with a Manhattan roommate from hell — or maybe Hell's Kitchen. If That Girl were more like Morticia, with a Borgia's sense of boundaries and propriety, you'd have Chloe (the fabulous Krysten Ritter), a brazenly amoral Holly Go-Darkly first seen ravaging June's fiancé on top of June's birthday cake.
"I'd offer you breakfast, but you didn't make any," is a typical Chloe greeting. What a you-know-what she is! Which is precisely the point, especially in the gratingly over-the-top pilot, as Chloe tries her damnedest to send June packing. But as the episodes go on and get progressively funnier, June develops a spine and Chloe demonstrates a self-made survivor's spirit, if not a heart. A grudging respect — but never trust — begins to grow, despite the weekly perverse curve balls Chloe blithely throws. (Wait until you see who Chloe sets June up with in next week's episode.)
Keeping it all merrily unreal is the Beek: flaunting his Dawson's flannel as a seduction tool, practicing his Dancing With the Stars moves, acting opposite Mad Men's little Kiernan Shipka in "the one version of the body-swap movie that's never been attempted before."
Trust me. Even if the bitch leaves you cold, something happening in and around Apartment 23 ought to make you laugh.
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COMINGS AND GOINGS: Oh if you could see all of the mail I get about the aggravating stop-and-start nature of the networks' erratic scheduling. The most prominent case in point: ABC's Revenge, which hasn't aired a new episode since Leap Year Night (Feb. 29). Did you see that it's back on tonight? Except it really kind of isn't. Tonight's episode (10/9c) is a "From the Beginning" recap, catching us up (we of foggy memory, anyway) with all the bloody shenanigans that went down in the Hamptons before the long hiatus. Which probably isn't the worst idea, though it still feels like an awful tease.
You may be better off checking into NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (10/9c), which also aired its last original episode on Feb. 29 before being sidelined for various midseason juggling. It's a strong showcase for leading lady Mariska Hargitay, with Olivia Benson first seen in a 2004 flashback (how time flies) having successfully secured a confession for a heinous torture-rape after a nine-hour ordeal. Cut to today, and said inmate is once again appealing his conviction, having recanted his confession many years earlier. (The convict is played, with an effective range of rage and despair, by Guillermo Diaz, formerly of Weeds and currently one of the quirkier members of ABC's Scandalteam.) When a Fleet Week-related sexual assault echoes the grisly M.O. of the original crime, Olivia is forced to question her methods and whether she put an innocent man away. This crisis of professional conscience puts her in an especially precarious position with her beau (Harry Connick Jr.) in the D.A.'s office, especially after crusading defense lawyer Bayard Ellis (Andre Braugher) becomes aware of this possible miscarriage of justice.
By a weird coincidence, CBS' CSI (10/9c) offers a similar storyline, with Stokes (George Eads) learning a man he put away is about to have his conviction overturned, putting the CSI team on alert to prove the inmate's guilt all over again.
On a lighter note (up to a crucial turning point anyway), USA Network's jokey-wacky Psychwraps its sixth season (10/9c) by unearthing a noir-ish mystery from 20 years ago, a long-buried case (and corpse) on which Shawn's dad Henry (Corbin Bernsen) was once the lead detective. "The plot, unlike your hair, continues to thicken," jibes Shawn (James Roday) to his long-suffering parent. The investigation, which somehow gives Gus (Dulé Hill) all kinds of opportunities to indulge his sweet tooth, exposes some unsavory truths for Henry, while the episode's title ("Santabarbaratown") should tip you off to which cinema classic is being paid homage to in the denouement.
WHAT ELSE IS ON: To help launch Don't Trust the B----, ABC is finally airing new episodes of its top comedies, including The Middle (8/7c), in which Frankie is inspired by a sermon to figure out her purpose in life (good luck with that); Suburgatory (8:30/7:30c), with James Lipton appearing as Dalia's shrink; and Modern Family (9/8c), where election day looms for Claire's run for town council. ... Comedy Central's South Park gets topical with an episode (10/9c) devoted to bullying. ... The ninth season of Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew premieres (MTV, 10/9c) with a former fan favorite, "Fanny Pak" from Season 2, being the first team to return to the competition in hopes of winning this time around. ... Because unearthing and auctioning the treasures within storage lockers isn't enough, now we get the inevitable Baggage Battles (Travel Channel, 10/9c), in which three teams square off to bid on the contents of unclaimed luggage in major airports with hopes of finding more than underwear, socks and toiletries. First stop: Miami International.