Friday, April 27, 2012

Pilot Review: The L.A. Complex

The L.A. Complex
Premiered April 24 at 9pm

This is just what network television needs right now: another show about trying to make it in Hollywood. Interestingly, this show actually comes from Canada, where it premiered this past January, so perhaps it’s not as familiar a concept there, and might have seemed worthwhile as an original idea. Predictably, it’s a cookie-cutter clone of so many shows before it, featuring expected characters and stale plotlines. The line “You gotta choose: it’s me or Los Angeles” is heard in the show’s opening moments, and the dialogue goes downhill from there. The show’s title has a double meaning, referring to the state of being in Los Angeles and to the physical dwellings in which its characters reside. At best, it’s an unfortunate imitation of last year’s reboot of “Melrose Place” aired by the CW, but it doesn’t look nearly as good or polished. That said, it’s just as outlandish, and it’s hard to decide which character is the most lamentable. I think that dishonor goes to Raquel, the well-known movie star who can’t get a gig because producers want her reading for the part of the mom or tell her that they’re looking for an African-American actress, and still pretends that she’s getting the big parts, even though her neighbors see her sitting by the pool all day. The reason she’s so tragic is that she’s played by Jewel Staite, onetime star of the classic “Firefly,” and who really shouldn’t be stooping to this level to be on television. She deserves so much better. Aside from her, most of the cast has a Canada-heavy resume, with Cassie Steele from “Degrassi: The Next Generation” assuming what appears to be the lead role. This series is just the kind of thing that the CW would put out had it made it itself, and it’s exactly the reason that this network is hurtling towards non-existence.

How will it work as a series? There are a handful of characters, all in similar situations in which they have to work hopelessly hard to attain the bare minimum in terms of breaking into their show business, and so this should play out like so many before it. It’s not likely to run dry of plotlines, but it’s also likely to cover extremely familiar ground.
How long will it last? The show has already been renewed for a second season in Canada, but something tells me that this may not make it through its six-episode order here in the United States. Vulture touts it as the lowest-rated network drama premiere ever, bringing in under a quarter of the viewers that watched “Ringer” when it started in the time slot back in the fall. The CW has little to replace it with, so I don’t see them yanking it, but it’s not going to make it past episode six.

Pilot grade: F

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