- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2006

‘Monkey’ business

“Love Monkey” sounds like the umpteenth sex-obsessed show being trotted out this midseason. Indeed, the CBS dramedy is obsessed, all right — but with music, not fornication.

Based on Kyle Smith’s 2004 novel of the same name and debuting tonight at 10, the show follows a thirtysomething dreamer named Tom Farrell (Tom Cavanaugh of NBC’s “Ed”) hitting an early midlife crisis when he loses both his record-label job and his longtime girlfriend.

Good thing he has a persnickety support team on his side — a group that’s a tad smarter than your average male posse. The friends bicker about dangling participles, for Pete’s sake.

Our lovelorn hero is on the brink of signing a guitar prodigy (real-life budding musician Teddy Geiger, a John Mayer sound-alike who also sings the show’s theme song) on tonight’s opener when he gets fired for speaking his mind during a business meeting.

The move shocks Tom, but it also persuades him to start his own record label on his own terms. Easier said than done — especially when his longtime girlfriend, who clearly is all wrong for him, dumps him, too.

“Love Monkey” bears all the markings of a literate alternative to more hormonal dating shows, but it needs a makeover before it can win our hearts. Tom seems a bit long in the tooth to be the kind of anti-corporate avenger “Monkey” makes him out to be. Plus, the obvious tease between Tom and Bran (Judy Greer), his best friend and confidante, already feels stale. We’ll need a darn good reason, and soon, why these two kids aren’t an item.

Still, few can sell self-deprecating machismo like Mr. Cavanaugh, and the show’s easy humor makes this “Monkey’s” moves easy to take.

Final ‘Development’

Fox has announced a two-hour season finale for “Arrested Development” on Feb. 10, TVGuide Online reports.

Judge Reinhold (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) will guest-star, as will show star Jason Bateman’s (Michael Bluth) real-life sis — “Family Ties” alum Justine Bateman.She plays a woman who may or may not be Michael’s half-sister.

‘Idol’ returns

“American Idol,” Fox TV’s karaoke sensation, returns for its fifth season at 8 tonight with a two-hour premiere (followed by an hourlong show tomorrow evening at 8), and it’s only a matter of time before a new star will have a record on the charts.

Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and the sarcastic Simon Cowell are back at the judging table to add their input, coupled with votes cast by viewers, to help promote America’s next pop sensation. So far, so good. To date, several winners (Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, last year’s sensation Carrie Underwood) and even a runner-up (Clay Aiken) have gone on to fame and fortune.

However, we’ll have to suffer through bad wannabes before 24 promising finalists — culled from hundreds of thousands of aspirants in several cities — take the stage next month. The first live competition is Feb. 23.

More ‘Desperate’ moves

As if having hunky “Desperate Housewives” plumber James Denton host the 2006 Miss America Pageant weren’t enough, now comes word that Brenda Strong, known to “Housewives” fans as narrator Mary Alice (and a former Miss Arizona 1980, to boot), will serve on the panel of judges.

The ratings-challenged competition (booted by ABC and NBC) airs live Saturday from Las Vegas at 7 p.m. on cable’s Country Music Television.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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