- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 11, 2004

Fox’s new ‘Wonder’

“Wonderfalls,” Fox’s eccentric new midseason drama, is the rare mainstream drama that’s too quirky for its own good.

Caroline Dhavernas, the show’s wondrous lead, radiates humor and intelligence as Jaye Tyler, a beautiful 24-year-old unwilling to play by the rules. That means she sees nothing wrong with working under a “mouth-breather” boss at a souvenir shop near Niagara Falls, even if she’s smart enough to tackle much more.

Naturally, her family is the very essence of dysfunction (kudos to William Sadler and Diana Scarwid for witty turns as her flustered folks), and they hate that their daughter can only afford a trailer home.

The gimmick here, and it needs plenty of work before it ripens into a worthy narrative device, is that inanimate objects begin talking to Jaye out of the blue. What they prod her to do makes no sense until the episode’s final moments, when all the nonsense clicks into place.

“Wonderfalls,” which airs at 9 tonight on Fox, is the proverbial unrefined gem — smart, stylish but oh, so prickly.

Babs babbles

The diva-est diva of them all, Barbra Streisand, will get plenty of positive reinforcement this Sunday when she joins host James Lipton for a two-hour chat on “Inside the Actors Studio.”

According to Bravo, the oft-lampooned Mr. Lipton has been asking Miss Streisand to join him on the interview stage ever since he began the program, now celebrating its 10th-anniversary season.

Miss Streisand will share everything from her poor childhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., to her latest endeavor, the Streisand Foundation, which supports national nonprofits.

Phair’s ‘Dreams’

NBC’s “American Dreams” still hasn’t caught ratings fire, but it keeps attracting top-flight musicians eager to play pop stars of yore.

This Sunday’s edition of the time-traveling drama stars Liz Phair as Jackie DeShannon. The former punk singer turned pop princess belts out Miss DeShannon’s “Walk in the Room.” In its short life span, “American Dreams” has attracted Kelly Clarkson, Chris Isaak, Usher and Michelle Branch, among others, to recreate the music of the 1960s.

“American Dreams” airs at 8 p.m. Sundays on NBC.

‘Curb’ wraps

With all the hoopla surrounding the last “Sex and the City” episode and the first new “Sopranos” installment, how about some love for “Curb Your Enthusiasm”?

The show’s fourth season wraps this Sunday as the reliably dyspeptic Larry David prepares for opening night of “The Producers.” Mr. David’s rehearsals for his role in the Mel Brooks musical was one of the season’s recurring plot lines.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” airs at 10 p.m. Sunday on HBO.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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