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'Bionic Woman' Version 2.0

Kate Walsh, above right, with Amy Brenneman, misdiagnoses drama in
Kate Walsh, above right, with Amy Brenneman, misdiagnoses drama in "Private Practice." Peter Krause, left, plays a reluctant attorney in "Dirty Sexy Money." (By Craig Sjodin -- Abc)

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The supporting characters, meant to be California-colorful and quixotic, unfortunately come off as self-absorbed prima donnas embroiled in endlessly tedious turf wars. They're not like any doctors and nurses you've ever met; what they resemble most are the kind of people who go into show business. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or to real life as lived anywhere but Southern California, is accidental.

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To her discredit, Dr. Montgomery tends to fit right in. Of course, she had noble goals when she went south: "I want to wear jeans and walk on the beach and dance naked and be wild and free." She also says she wants to "throw my hat all the way up in the air," a reference to the iconic gesture that opens the old "Mary Tyler Moore Show," which this series resembles about as much as it does "Cannibal Zombies From Outer Space."

The doc gets her wish about dancing naked, much to the leering delight of her neighbor, who's also on staff of the wellness center. That would be tired Tim Daly, who announces late in the hour, "I'm very good at what I do," the kind of Mespeak they all talk around there. When a woman named Jenny goes nutty and starts obsessively counting, and talking to, the tiles on the floor, Dr. Montgomery says, "I can handle this" and then proceeds to botch it up. And takes nearly forever doing it.

"Private Practice" doesn't appear to be just the thing for people who like "Grey's Anatomy," but rather just the thing for people who hate it -- and who hate good drama on television wherever it manages to surface.

'Dirty Sexy Money'

Prime time abounds in rogues' galleries this season, with the quality of roguishness varying widely. In ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money," it just about hits rock bottom. The facetious drama series -- not quite a comedy, not quite not one -- gathers together an annoying collection of eccentrics and misfits, all of them rich and greedy, few of them worth knowing.

Peter Krause, who has a very television-friendly persona, is the most appealing and least duplicitous character afoot, the son of a prominent attorney who vows not to follow in his dad's footsteps -- until dad drops dead in his tracks. Then the footsteps become less escapable, and so Krause, as lawyer Nick George, swallows his pride and his ideals and agrees to represent the nasty Darling family in all its avaricious maliciousness.

There are, of course, degrees of dislikability. One is naturally drawn to two old pros who generally rule the roost: Donald Sutherland and Jill Clayburgh as Patrick "Tripp" Darling III and wife Letitia, patriarch and matriarch of the clammy clan. They both look great, and Sutherland seems liberated by the silliness of his character. He's almost as good as he was in "Six Degrees of Separation."

The family includes a nasty priest who talks about his "wife and kids," a shiftless playboy, a berserk actress and other assorted odds, all of them at ends. It's very unfortunate that the show really plays a great deal like the cult comedy "Arrested Development" but without the laughs -- and thus without a point. It's just a collection of kooks acting kooky -- an anti-family full of antiheroes.

What passes for a central plot has Krause's Nick searching for the rat who killed his father, a death that initially appeared accidental. "Sometimes you're just looking for answers, and there aren't any," Sutherland's character tells Nick before boarding the Darling family chopper.

Whether there are answers or not just doesn't manage to matter, and neither do the questions -- with the possible exception of, "How did this awful thing get on the air in the first place?"

Bionic Woman (one hour) premieres tonight at 9 on Channel 4.

Private Practice (one hour) premieres tonight at 9 on Channel 7.

Dirty Sexy Money (one hour) premieres tonight at 10 on Channel 7.


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