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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Scoundrels is surprisingly good


     ABC has done plenty of promotion for their summer season this year, promising good television.  This past Sunday, two of those drama premiered.  Sadly, The Gates was terrible.  However, Scoundrels had quite a pilot with "And Jill Came Tumbling After".  It introduced us to the West family, a group who are involved in the same occupational field: crime.  Each character has a distinct personality, and thanks to some great casting, they all gel together in a way highly pleasing.

     The patriarch of the West family is Wolf (David James Elliott, JAG), now serving five years in prison.  This means the responsibility of taking care of the clan falls squarely on the shoulders of his wife, Cheryl (Virgina Madsen, Sideways, Monk).  Cheryl decides by the end of episode one that she can't bear to loose any more of her family to prison or worse, so they all must go straight.  Although this is late in the pilot, it seems to be the premise of the series.  Not that anyone wants to go along with this plan.  Her kids worry about her being serious, the cop constantly on their tale (Carlos Bernard, 24) scoffs, and the episode ends with Wolf laughing heartily.  Clearly, Cheryl has her work cut out for her if she wants to save her family.

     If that was the entire premise, the show would be weak.  However, the Wolfs have four children.  Son Logan (Patrick John Flueger, The 4400) has already gone straight, and has just been accepted to the bar as a lawyer.  Although he claims to have studied law so that he could get his family off the hook for their misbehavior.  Identical twin to Logan is Cal (also Flueger), the screw up whom Wolf wants to take over making money and supporting the family.  Obviously there will be some kind of swap between the two boys at some point.  It's too good a gag to pass up, and allows Flueger to likely have more fun than anyone.

     That doesn't mean that Logan and Cal overshadow the Wolf girls, though.  Young adult Heather (Leven Rambin, Grey's Anatomy, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) has beauty, but no academic brains.  The pilot finds her posing in next to nothing.  But when the photographer tried to withhold the best prints, she proves her scam skills by switching her roofied champagne for his clean glass and gains the upper hand.  In contrast, daughter Hope (Vanessa Marano, The Gilmore Girls, Dexter) has all the brains, but also the sneakiness.  She hasn't attended school for months, after blackmailing her vice principal (Jessica Collins, Tru Calling), who slept with 'good' brother Logan when the boy was only seventeen.  Instead, she's working on a screenplay.  The sisters totally have the Modern Family dynamic, but with an edge and little more affection.

     Add to the mix a senile Grandpa Wolf (John Lawlor, Phyllis) and you have a recipe that tastes delicious.  Scoundrels runs Sunday nights at 9pm on ABC.

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