Prison Break may not hold up as a weekly series; it's much too soon to tell. But by and large it works as a two-hour premiere special, one that grabs your attention from its first scene to its startling cliffhanger ending.
Though he's playing a smarter, wittier, more self aware character than he did in The Office, Gervais displays the same gift for the social faux pas, and the same inability to extract himself from increasingly improper conversations.
Like Harry, the show has yet to fully master its tricks. There are a few decent jolts, but nothing is truly frightening or even that threatening. And while the show can be amusing, it's never exactly side-splitting.
There's no denying that the show looks a little worn, a victim perhaps of budget pressures that may have moved the series from cost-efficient to cheap. But even a reduced Lights is better than most TV series.
Yet for all its laughs, 30 Rock does call to mind a kind of sketch show version of The Mary Tyler Moore Show — one in which everyone's playing Ted. That can be fun for a while, but eventually sitcom viewers tend to want to root for someone.
Granted, the premise is a stretch. But the gimmick allows for some clever comic jibes while creating some useful dramatic tension between Shawn and the cops, Shawn and his father, and Shawn and his best friend.
The Riches most often treats this family and their mad attempt to steal a new identity with a delightfully light comic touch bolstered by an underpinning of yearning.... The show stumbles whenever it tries to become dark or serious.
Convincing both as the terrible woman she used to be and the nicer woman she's trying to be, Applegate holds the character together even when she's yelping or collapsing in a dither--though in the long run, less of that would be more.
The show maintains a sensible balance between introducing Elizabeth's foibles and telling the story at hand--a well-constructed case that has her battling an ambitious prosecutor (the always interesting Terry Kinney).