The Return of Jezebel James

Film
3 out of 5 stars
SISTER PACT Posey, left, and Ambrose strike an unusual bargain.
Photographs: Richard Foreman/FOX SISTER PACT Posey, left, and Ambrose strike an unusual bargain.

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Jezebel James is by no means awful, but given the level of talent involved, this long-delayed Fox sitcom is certainly a big disappointment. In addition to offering the dream-team pairing of Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose as bickering sisters, the series marks the return of Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who was denied the chance to steer her previous show across the finish line when the WB chose not to renew her contract.

If any actor seems born to recite Sherman-Palladino’s rapid-fire, reference-heavy dialogue, it’s Posey. But Jezebel James is an old-school three-camera sitcom with a loud studio audience, and the need to leave gaps for laughter forces both the actors and Sherman-Palladino to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. The premise isn’t so complicated—upon discovering she can’t conceive, spastic kid-lit editor Sarah Tompkins (Posey) convinces her sister Coco to carry her fertilized egg—but the pilot is too busy and expository by half (the title—it’s a long story—refers to Coco’s childhood imaginary friend). A second episode airing Fri 14 wasn’t sent to the press, though critics received an April episode, not written by Sherman-Palladino, that reveals decent chemistry between Posey and Ambrose as well as between Posey and her love interest Scott Cohen. Certainly, the later episode is promising enough to suggest the series could jell in time. Given Fox’s famous speed with its trigger finger, that may never happen (the Friday time slot almost seems like an admission of defeat). Barring a miracle, fans of the women behind Jezebel James should just hope that everyone involved has better luck next time.

—Andrew Johnston

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