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I'm a huge fan of Tom Fontana's "OZ," and when I learned he had a show coming out, especially one on a mainstream channel, I was anticipating it and expecting it to be good.
Imagine my surprise when I turned on my TV to behold the dull, namby-pamby could-be-a-catastrophe-if-you-don't-die-of-boredom-first one-hour premier of "Bedford Diaries." Obviously, there are limitations to writing a show about sex for the WB, but those limitations don't prescribe a forty-five-minute exploration of Dr. Phil-inspired psychobabble, fundamentally unlikable characters, and plot so flat that it blows the topography of Kansas out of the water.
The show's problems arise from both the bland story lines and the lack of sympathy a viewer feels for the characters. When four white kids, one black kid, and one Hispanic kid, all cute and bubbly and scholastically successful, whine about "trust issues" and "love," forgive me if I am pulled to vomit. Some characters are wrath-deserving from the get-go: one was pulled to do drastic, irrational things after a break-up with her boyfriend; another suffers from the irritating "meanie" paradox: one minute, he's a total ass and the next, he's deconstructing his difficult nature and attributing it to, again, a break-up. Boring television is what that makes, unless you're a fan of pre-packaged repartee straight from the TV therapist or Reality Show du Jour.
One of the most disappointing aspects of "Bedford Diaries," for me, was the dialogue. In the past, even when the story suffered, Fontana's writing was at least engaging. Because this show features characters who are supposedly under forty (an age when most people soften out and disappear...), it contractually MUST include a lot of snappy back-and-forth. This, alas, is not to be. While some of the dialogue can be very sporadically amusing (and I mean VERY sporadically), most of the zest is missing. In other words, with all the cleverness and sarcasm of "Step by Step," "Bedford Diaries" talk is harmless: all talk, if you will, and no action, which is a very fitting adage for the show in general.
Lastly, not that the WB is a bastion of incredible art or anything, but the acting on "Bedford Diaries" is abysmal. It's almost as if the actors' skills decided to work in concert with Fontana's sensory lapses and make the worst show from one great and a few decent people possible. The kids' line deliveries aren't just far deviated from realism; they're also thoroughly uninvolving. This factor trumps "Bedford" even further into the ground with other adolescent dreck.
Bottom line: only watch this garbage if you have a special attachment to any of the people involved. Otherwise, go read a book instead and save yourself sixty minutes of life that you'll never get back (provided, of course, that you're cognizant enough to only watch one episode).
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