TV PREVIEW

The Jonas Brothers Are Back in Action in New Disney Channel Show

Kevin, Joe and Nick play fictionalized pop stars much like themselves on the new Disney Channel series
Kevin, Joe and Nick play fictionalized pop stars much like themselves on the new Disney Channel series "JONAS." (By Jaimie Trueblood -- Disney Channel)
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By J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 1, 2009

So, three Jonas Brothers walk into a prep school.

Only they're not the Jonas Brothers -- they're the Lucas Brothers! Who perform in the brother band JONAS! And the brothers crack corny jokes and break into song right there on campus! Hilarity ensues!

That's more or less the premise of "JONAS," a scripted Disney Channel series in which teen idols Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas play teen idols Nick, Joe and Kevin Lucas, who inexplicably call their band JONAS.

But at the school, whose mascot seems to be plaid clothing and accessories, the brothers just want to blend in -- and, okay, also go to Kevin's locker, where (what wackiness!) he's stashed a blender that makes delicious fruit smoothies.

In the premiere episode, which airs tomorrow night at 8, Nick, the sensitive, serious and talented one, becomes smitten with Penny, a classmate who happens to be an aspiring singer. Much to the chagrin of his meddling brothers, Nick writes a plaintive puppy-love song for Penny. Only there's a misunderstanding about what "for her" actually means. And stuff happens, including a series of sight gags during the centerpiece performance of the strummy song "Give Love a Try." There's also a "joke" about an otter that plays the trumpet. LOLOL.

If this sounds like your idea of must-see TV, then congratulations and happy belated 11th birthday, young lady.

If this sounds like a half-baked teeny-bopper take on "Flight of the Conchords" -- if not 22-or-so minutes of televised torture -- you won't find much disagreement here.

It's as if the JoBros are launching a TV series simply for the sake of launching a TV series. Which is to say: For the sake of Disney-style multi-platform pop culture domination, having already logged a best-selling album, a made-for-TV movie in "Camp Rock," etc.

Does the world need a Jonas Brothers TV series? Do the Jonas Brothers?

Originally, "JONAS" was supposed to have been called "J.O.N.A.S.," an acronym for "Junior Operatives Networking As Spies." The brothers were going to be engaged in espionage, living double lives. JoBros: International boys of mystery! Sure, maybe.

But somebody, somewhere along the way, decided otherwise. Did they find the idea too ambitious, given the handsome, wholesome siblings' jampacked touring and recording schedules and, also, their limited acting abilities? Or did the Disney overlords just decide it would make more sense to do a show that stays true to the Jonas brand by being about the brothers Jonas, only not really?

And so now, we have a show that opens with the Jonas Brothers as the Lucas Brothers as JONAS performing one of those catchy and completely inoffensive Jonas Brothers songs, with plenty of additional Jonas Brothers references sprinkled throughout. In Episode No. 1, for instance, there's a riff on some of the band's best-known song titles, from "Burnin' Up" to "S.O.S."


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