Fox Makes Another Stab at Edgy Fare With 'Jezebel James'

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Admit it: There's something alluring about the prospect of being in the studio audience of a sitcom. Even though the laugh track has always been about as useful to an audience as a Seeing Eye Dog to a sighted person, knowing that some stranger in a studio found that pratfall equally as hilarious as you did on your couch is kind of comforting. We kept this in mind when we received an invitation from Fox two weeks ago to catch a taping of Fox's new midseason sitcom "The Return of Jezebel James."
Ring a girl named Posey: Indie-flick queen Parker stars in Fox's 'The Return of Jezebel James.'
Ring a girl named Posey: Indie-flick queen Parker stars in Fox's 'The Return of Jezebel James.' Credit: Fox
Given that the show features Parker Posey in her first lead role in a TV series, we made a beeline for the V train to Kaufman Astoria studios to witness the indie queen make the transition to prime-time sitcom star.

At first glance, "Jezebel James" has the makings of a promising formula for a hit show: two familiar-yet-quirky stars (Posey and "Six Feet Under" vet Lauren Ambrose), a hot creator (Amy Sherman Palladino, of "Gilmore Girls" fame) and an edgy network known for bringing us the best nontraditional sitcom of the past decade, "Arrested Development."

Since that brilliant show was canceled in 2006, however, the word "edgy" hasn't exactly applied to Fox's recent comedies (see "'Til Death" or "Back to You"). So you can guess that Posey's character is much more in the vein of her high-strung book editor in "You've Got Mail" than any of her delightfully kooky characters from the Christopher Guest oeuvre. In fact, Posey stars as Sarah Tompkins, a high-strung -- wait for it! -- children's book editor who enlists her younger, hard-partying sister (Ambrose) to be a surrogate mother after she is informed she can't conceive. We saw the taping of episode four, by which point the chemistry between the two siblings had developed enough for them to have a rapid-fire repartee worthy of their "Gilmore" predecessors.

Granted, a show about children's books and infertility probably isn't going to win over many male fans, but the dialogue and the plotlines so far seem to be in step for the show to become a "Gilmore"-size hit for young women -- as long as Fox doesn't schedule it against "Grey's Anatomy" or "Private Practice," of course. (Incidentally, a premiere date has yet to be set for the midseason sitcom.)
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