In the premiere episode of “Big Shots,” the rakish character played by Dylan McDermott utters the following line: “Men - we’re the new women.”
Lord help us all.
“Big Shots,” which debuts on ABC at 10 p.m. EDT Thursday, tries to give viewers “Sex and the City,” but with dudes: Four powerful and successful guys, friends for years, gather regularly to hash out their problems and celebrate their successes. Except these four guys - played by Michael Vartan, Joshua Malina, Christopher Titus and McDermott - really are not people you want to spend any time with, let alone an hour each week.
Titus is Brody Johns, a hotshot lawyer for a crisis-management firm who eats corporate sharks for breakfast but is completely henpecked at home. Malina is Karl Mixworthy, the CEO of a drug company who has managed to land an attractive, loving wife and a hot mistress despite being twitchy and neurotic pretty much all the time. Vartan is James Walker, a rising (or so he thinks) star at his giant firm who’s described as “the moral center” of the group, which means he mopes around a lot when he finds out his wife’s having an affair. And McDermott is Duncan Collinsworth, the divorced head of a cosmetics company who still hooks up with his ex (Paige Turco) and is trying to hide a dalliance with a transgender hooker.
(For those keeping score, that’s the second transgender affair on ABC this fall. “Dirty Sexy Money” has the other, far more interesting, storyline.)
That bit of business aside, Duncan is the only character who seemed capable of holding my attention. He’s a jerk, sure, but McDermott plays him with a glint in his eye that says he knows it and won’t apologize for it. He and Turco also play well off one another, although they have only a couple brief scenes.
The other guys, though, are just a joyless bunch. Vartan, Malina and Titus are all likable enough, but they’re given precious little to make their characters endearing in any way. The attempts at comedy try way too hard, and whatever drama there is never really sparks.
A colleague pointed out that the dialogue in “Big Shots” sounds like a man’s (creator Jon Harmon Feldman, in this case) idea of the way women wish men would speak. That seems just about right; I don’t know many guys who think, speak or act at all the way these characters do - and it’s not just because I don’t know any CEOs.
Which brings us back to that “new women” line. Given the way these “Big Shots” act, women everywhere deserve an apology for being lumped in with them.