'Jennifer Falls': Off her high horse and back home

Here are some reasons to like, or at least be interested in, the first episode of "Jennifer Falls," a new sitcom airing at 10:30 p.m. Wednesdays on TV Land. Or not.

• Jeffrey Tambor. He's happily cast as the irredeemably chauvinist boss who fires the main character, Jennifer Doyle (Jaime Pressly), from her $250,000-a-year job at a company with "Capital" in its name. When she complains that the traits he dings her for - aggressiveness, cockiness - are the ones that "get men promotions," Tambor deploys his patented tone of mournful restraint when he replies, "And then you say hurtful things like that." What's not so happy: He's making just a two-minute guest appearance.

• The topical twist. This kind of story - the highflier who crashes to earth, moves back in with a parent or parents and takes a working-class job that guarantees embarrassing run-ins with old high school friends and lovers - is usually set in motion by a flameout or a burnout. It's slightly subversive that Jennifer slinks back home because she's been too good at her job, upsetting the male order of things. What's not so subversive: Once she goes to work in her brother's sports bar, she spends a lot of her time wearing short shorts and a referee's shirt with a plunging neckline.

• The cast. Jessica Walter, Tambor's "Arrested Development" co-star, plays Jennifer's mother, an oversharing therapist. Ethan Suplee, Pressly's "My Name Is Earl" co-star, plays Jennifer's brother. And Pressly's sharp intelligence, authenticity and limber physicality are all evident in her own portrayal. What's not so evident: her skills as a comedian. In the pilot, at least, she's hemmed in by the sentimentality and preachiness of the story, in which Jennifer does have lessons to learn - she neglected her friends and family when she became successful - and Pressly spends a lot of her time playing straight woman to all the supporting characters.

• The network. TV Land proves again that no one in basic cable does a more proficient, professional job of executing and packaging traditional sitcoms.

What's not so admirable: the creator and writer Matthew Carlson's pilot script. It's bad enough when he gets out of a scene by having Jennifer's mother ask her, "Did you eat cheese last night?" It's worse - and a solid candidate for most predictable sitcom line of the year - when Jennifer tells the nice-guy dad and presumed future love interest, "Your girls are adorable," and he replies, following a shot of her referee cleavage: "Thank you. So are yours."


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