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TV Series Review

The last time we saw Jenna Elfman on TV it was as fun-loving flower child Dharma Finklestein-Montgomery, one-half of Dharma & Greg. He was the straight-laced attorney. She was the free-spirited ... well, we're not really sure what she did for a living.

Elfman's latest sitcom, CBS' Courting Alex, seems oddly familiar. Only this time the tables are turned, with the comely blonde playing Alex Rose, a career-obsessed lawyer with no time for a social life. No time, that is, until she meets Scott (Josh Randall), a free-spirited—there it is!—self-assured hunk who recently moved to town to run his family's tavern.

Adding to the standard odd couple motif is the fact that Alex's crusty father, Bill (Dabney Coleman), initially hates Scott. You see, Bill, who owns Alex's law firm, had a multimillion-dollar real estate deal fall through because Scott reneged at the last minute on his decision to sell the bar. Not the greatest way to begin a relationship.

Courting Alex has gotten off to a rocky start as well. Granted, for its first few weeks, crude material was relatively scant compared to most sitcoms. Despite tossing in mild language, alcohol references and lots of unfunny one-liners, the show's writers actually seemed more concerned about establishing the relationships among Alex, Scott, Bill and a quirky British neighbor (Hugh Bonneville) than launching the typical barrage of sex jokes. The series even had a handful of redeeming moments thanks to Scott's habit of seeing the best in people and Bill's honest desire for his daughter's well-being.

However, when the "sex episode" arrived, the gloves came off. Breast jokes. Sexual innuendoes. Double entendres. Explicit references. As Alex and Scott have hopped in and out of bed, CBS has doused viewers with a steady flow of below-the-belt humor, though for some television critics, immorality is the least of this show's problems.

"Courting Alex is unoriginal, poorly written and utterly without a reason for being," stated the San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman. "Normally a show this dull and wasteful of talent would either never get on the air or never make it through a month, but clearly, someone—justifiably—wanted to make a star vehicle for Elfman, and star vehicles tend to get a lot of second chances."

The network's support and a weekly audience of 13 million people seems to have made Alex a fixture among CBS' low-brow situation comedies.

Episodes Reviewed: Jan. 23, 30, Feb. 6, 13, 20, 2006

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Marcus Yoars

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