Eastwick: More Trouble than Bubble

Let's get this out of the way first: I am not part of the target demographic that Eastwick is trying to put under its spell. The adaptation of John Updike's The Witches of Eastwick skews so far female that, after watching the pilot, my estrogen levels are off the charts. But as Desperate Housewives took the Sex and the City format and successfully wrapped it around a murder mystery, Eastwick achieves similar success adding real-world witches to the mix.

That's not to say watching Eastwick isn't like reading Cosmo cover to cover. The show trumpets the idea that a woman's happiness depends on finding just the right guy or getting rid of the worthless guy she's already with -- yet it paints most men as one-dimensional sex-fiends (well, four-dimensional if you also count lazy, abusive, and drunk), and is overstuffed with cheap sexual innuendo ("full-sized SUV," one says of a man's junk when asked to compare it to a car).

But what really matters here, as in all dramas of this type, are the characters. So let's meet the witches:

Rebecca Romijn plays flighty, artsy Roxie, the town's resident cougar. She is bedding a young stud in the form of Matt Dallas (Kyle XY)... which is weird to see for multiple reasons. Roxie has budding psychic powers and a well-established bustline, which we see a lot of (in fact, it's the first thing of hers we see).

Lindsay Price, who was last seen in Lipstick Jungle (and my dreams), is Joanna, the "uptight" and socially awkward Eastwick news reporter whose idea of flirting is talking about vomit and yeast infections. Hey, whatever floats your boat, baby. Joanna has her eye on her coworker Will -- and the two serve as proof that Hollywood can put glasses on any pair of beautiful people and instantly make them quirky yet worth rooting for. But when she takes those specs off and lets her hair down, she discovers she has the power to make men do what she wants. Joanna's transformation is easily the most interesting and entertaining of the bunch.

Jamie Ray Newman rounds out the wiznitches as nurse Kat, the "doormat" of the group who is married to a good-for-nothing, beer-swigging loser who knocked her up when she was young. She seems to have some powers involving the earth (she summons a tremor and can grow really huge tomatoes), she's red-headed, and... well that's about it, as she's the most underdeveloped of the three.

But it wouldn't be Eastwick without some version of Jack Nicholson, and filling those shoes is Canadian Paul Gross. Gross does a good job playing the mysterious Daryl Van Horne -- a man who comes to town and instantly ingratiates himself with the ladies. Of course, all is not as it seems with Daryl, and anyone familiar with the movie or book knows what's coming.

The storytelling is predictable throughout the entire pilot, but Eastwick doesn't aspire to be anything more than silly fun. Unfortunately, it's just not fun enough. The show will certainly have its fans, but not enough to keep it out of Cancel Town, where most ABC dramas have headed in recent years.

Eastwick premieres September 23 (tonight) at 10 pm on ABC.

Sneak Peek: The girls hang out and have some girl talk.

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