Let's not do lunch . . . a review of 'Cashmere Mafia'

Cashmeremafia_240 I think you know that sometimes I can become inexplicably focused on a certain aspect of a television show.

For instance right now I'm oh-so-slightly obsessed with the fact that the gang on Gossip Girl is more dressed for a mild fall than a real New York winter. And really how much plaid can they wear on October Road?

With the new ABC drama Cashmere Mafia (premiering Sunday at 10 p.m. on ABC), it was lunch. While watching the first two episodes available for review, I was very distracted by the fact that these high-powered business women seemed to go out to lunch with each other on a daily basis. No hurriedly eating a sandwich at your desk. No running out to grab a slice of pizza and rushing back. No business lunch to close a deal. They have a real, sit down, with menus and a server, gossipy gal pal lunch. I know for the show to succeed, they need the characters to interact but for some reason this just bugged me.

That's not the only thing that irked me about Cashmere Mafia, of course, but it kind of set the tone. Lucy Liu, Frances O'Connor, Miranda Otto, and Bonnie Somerville are four highly successful New York executives trying to -- what else? -- juggle life, love and a career. Too often, the series feels like the women are playing dress up not like they actually are high powered executives.

My favorite character is O'Connor's Zoe Burden. O'Connor is probably best known for playing the mother in Artificial Intelligence: AI and here there's something palpably believable about her. Her throw down in the second episode with a stay-at-home mom (played pitch perfectly by Krista Allen) really resonates. As does her speech about Generation ID -- that's generation I deserve. That's the kind of quip dialogue I've come to expect from executive producer Darren Star.

The rest of the characters and their storylines are a little lackluster. Publisher Mia Mason (Liu) might not exactly be picking up where Carrie Bradshaw left off but her outfits sure are. I've actually really liked Somerville since she first appeared in that great Darren Star series Grosse Pointe and Star obviously likes her since Cashmere Mafia is the third Star series she's popped up in (she was also in the cancelled too soon Kitchen Confidential), but when she gives the speech that if a boyfriend breaks Mia's heart, "we'll break every last bone in your body," I almost laughed out loud it was so not believable. That is definitely not the kind of quip dialogue I've come to expect from Star. And Otto probably would be well served by warming up her ice queen act a little bit.

I have a lot of faith in Star and in the show's stars, so I'll probably give Cashmere Mafia a couple more chances. But right now, it's getting three stars from me.

Lipstickjungle_240_2 Oh and to clear things up, there are, indeed, two Sex and the City inspired shows this season. Cashmere Mafia is from Sex and the City executive producer Star. Lipstick Jungle is based on the book by Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell and Bushnell also serves as an executive producer. Lipstick Jungle stars Brooke Shields, Kim Raver, and Lindsay Price as three high-powered career women trying to balance life, love and --that's right -- a career. Will it be worth watching? We'll soon find out. Lipstick Jungle premieres on NBC on February 7. But right now I can tell I'm most looking forward to is this summer's Sex and the City movie.

After you watch Cashmere Mafia, let me know what you think or post your comments below.

Highlights for December 30-January 6

Personally I think New Year's Eve isn't New Year's Eve without Dick Clark, who begins his countdown activities Monday at 10 p.m. on ABC.

I am so curious about what's going to happen when Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien return to work without writers on Wednesday beginning at 11:35 p.m. on NBC and Jimmy Kimmel returns to ABC at 12:05 a.m. David Letterman and Craig Ferguson are back too (Wednesday at 11:35 p.m. on CBS) but they are back with writers after Letterman's production company struck an independent deal with the Writer's Guild. But Leno, O'Brien and Kimmel have an uphill battle. They have no writers and many actors are saying they won't cross the picket line to appear on their shows. I've always been a Letterman gal, but I'm definitely watching Leno Wednesday night.

Law & Order is back for an 18th season Wednesday at 9 p.m. on NBC. Cast changes abound now that Fred Thompson off running for president. Jack McCoy (Sam Waterson) becomes the new District Attorney while Jeremy Sisto is the new Detective Cyrus Lupo and Linus Roache is the new assistant DA.

Gossip Girl kicks off the new year with a brand new episode Wednesday at 9 p.m. on the CW. I've heard your cries that Chuck is a bad boy not a bad boy we might come to love. I've also heard from those of you who are already a bit partial to Chuck. In this week's episode you can hear Westwick's band The Filthy Youth perform two original songs "Orange" and "Come Flash All You Ladies." While the Chuck debate rages on, I have a new question for you -- how annoying do you find Vanessa? I actually liked Jessica Szohr last season on What About Brian but I really can't like her on this show. If the show is trying to develop an interesting love triangle between Serena, Dan and Vanessa, I'm officially here to tell them that it's not working. What do you think?

Gabby, I don't think you'll recognize Wisteria Lane anymore. If you missed the big tornado episode, ABC repeats this critical hour of Desperate Housewives Thursday at 10 p.m. on ABC. I have issued my edict -- I simply refuse to let the show kill off Tom Scavo. We'll find out how he and the rest of the Scavos fared when ABC airs its last new episode of Desperate Housewives (until the writer's strike ends) Sunday at 9 p.m. on ABC.

I simply can't get that excited about The Celebrity Apprentice (Thursday at 9 p.m. on NBC), can you? I think it's because I prefer my celebrities dancing or singing not fighting and behaving badly. And I have no need to see Omarosa again. Ever. According to Donald Trump, there are vicious fights this season - that actually makes me not want to watch even more. My early thinking is that I'll be rooting for Stephen Baldwin but we'll see.

Gloriareuben_1800missing_240 Gloria Reuben checks back in to her role of Jeanie Boulet on ER Thursday at 10:01 p.m. on NBC. Correct me if I'm wrong, but will she even know anybody? By the way, enjoy ER while you can, it goes off the air to make room for Lipstick Jungle at the end of this month.

The Wire returns for a fifth and final season Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO. And, even though this is one of the most dense, intricate series on television, I kind of feel like the time is now to get into it -- just take the leap and go ahead and get on that bandwagon even if you've never watched the show. To help get you oriented, you can check out The Wire Odyessey Sunday at 8:15 p.m. on HBO. This 45-minute recap of the first four seasons is also availble on demand on Comcast. I've watched the first two episodes of the fifth season and they are fantastic. This season explores the media, specifically a Baltimore newspaper. No matter what your profession, the office politics will be familiar.

That's all for today. I'll be back on Wednesday with this week's familiar faces (pickings are slim) and I've heard your requests for a "Worst of" review -- so I thought we'd get that going this week too. If you have a question, have seen a familiar face or want to nominate a quote of the week, write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com.

I wish you all a healthy and happy New Year. I can't thank you enough for reading my column and now my blog. It's only because of you that I get to write my musings, rants, and raves about television and I feel incredibly lucky. Agree with me, disagree with me, want to shake some sense into me, or scold me for not showing Supernatural enough love, I always love hearing what you have to say. You guys are the best. I so look forward to talking TV with you in 2008. See you in the New Year.