You watch the first episode of "The Deep End" (ABC, 8 p.m.) and you get the feeling some ABC exec somewhere said, "Hey, how can we turn out another copy of 'Grey's Anatomy' after 'Private Practice' continues to fail? Hey, let's set it a law firm!"
Good looking stars? Check. Lots of inter-office relationships? Check. Conflicts between senior and junior staffers? Check. Off the wall cases? Check.
Yup, the formula is all there. In fact, very little of "Deep End" seems original. The plot follows five first-year law school graduates -- the best of the best -- as they begin work at a big-time firm, founded by a lawyer with humanitarian thoughts (Clancy Brown) but run by the "Prince of Darkness" (Billy Zane), whose wife (Nicole Ari Parker) often has to play referee.
In the meantime, we follow the first-years -- the boy scout (Matt Long); the doormat (Tina Majorino); blond ambition (Leah Pipes); and the ladies' man (Ben Lawson) -- as each faces a quandry with the clients they are assigned.
There's a lot of corny, pithy nuggets of supposed wisdom thrown around as if straight out of fortune cookies as well.
The show might work better if they played it as a parody of shows like "Grey's Anatomy" rather than trying to emulate them, because as a light-hearted legal drama, it's nothing special. Let's just say I wish ABC had kept "Eli Stone" around rather than introduce us to "The Deep End."
Still, paired with like-minded "Grey's," it's got a fair shot of sticking. However, considering the quality of the new shows ABC has turned out this year, it's not nearly the cream of the crop.
THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: "Deep" is followed by new episodes of "Grey's" and "Private Practice" on ABC.
Meanwhile, after too long a hiatus, "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.) is back with a new episode as the Winchesters go undercover in a mental hospital. It follows the return of "Vampire Diaries" at 8 p.m.
"Bones" (Fox, 8 p.m.) has the team looking into the JFK assassination, followed by a new "Fringe."
"The Office" (NBC, 9 p.m.) also returns after a long layoff, highlighting new episodes of "Community," "Parks & Recreation" and followed by "30 Rock."
CBS airs new installments of "CSI" and "The Mentalist," beginning at 9 p.m.
On cable, USA marks the return of "Burn Notice" at 10 p.m. with a mini "Cagney & Lacey" reunion as Michael's mom (Sharon Gless) must convince a county clerk (guest star Tyne Daly) to pass along some information while Michael tries to infiltrate a ring of insurance scammers.
Also on cable is anew episode of the animated comedy "Archer" on FX, beginning at 10 p.m., while Lifetime airs a new episode of "Project Runway" at 10 p.m.
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