Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 66° Cloudy
News >  Features

Fox’s ‘Head Cases’ misses the mark

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

Beware of a show with a pun in the title. The new comedy-drama “Head Cases” (9 p.m., Fox) concerns two lawyers suffering from mental disorders who form a law practice and defend clients too zany to appeal to the madcap litigators from “Boston Legal” and “Ally McBeal.”

Chris O’Donnell stars as Jason Payne, a corporate lawyer consumed with success, much to the detriment of his wife, Laurie (Krista Allen), and troubled son, Ryan (Jake Cherry). When he forgets an appointment with the boy’s therapist, Laurie kicks Jason out of the house.

He snaps, suffers a nervous breakdown and is sent to a home, where he meets Shultz (Adam Goldberg), a low-rent lawyer with iffy clients and a regrettable mental affliction that results in brief, explosive binges of rage and other inappropriate behavior. In no time at all, Jason loses his corporate job and finds himself collaborating with the wacky Shultz. It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship that only a sitcom writer could love.

It’s a shame “Cases” suffers from such a flimsy premise and frequently over-the-top situations. O’Donnell and Goldberg make a good pair, not dissimilar to Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould in Robert Altman’s “MASH” – an amusing contrast of dark and light, button-down and brash, retentive and impulsive.

But Goldberg is truly wasted here. His twitchy character has potential, but his outbursts are more disturbing than amusing. You don’t have to be thin-skinned or politically correct to find the show’s “crazy” stereotypes both grating and demeaning.

“Seinfeld” veteran John O’Hurley made the most of his stint on the summer hit “Dancing with the Stars.” He has won the affection of a huge television audience, many of whom consider him the most wronged man in America after his close loss to winner Kelly Monaco.

ABC has scheduled a rematch of sorts on Sept. 20, when O’Hurley and Monaco reunite with their dance partners Alec Mazo and Charlotte Jorgensen to compete in a one-night dance-off. ABC knows it has a winner here and has scheduled a results show for the following evening.

Meanwhile, O’Hurley hosts the 29th annual “Mrs. America Pageant” (8 p.m., WE). As the show’s title implies, this contest involves 51 married women representing every state and the District of Columbia. The contestants come from every walk of life and include stay-at-home mothers, schoolteachers, television reporters and one city mayor (“Mrs. Ohio”).

Mrs. Maryland works as a professional skater, and Mrs. Virginia speaks seven languages and works for the Defense Department.

Former “Apprentice” villainess Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth will report from backstage. She’s no stranger to these proceedings, having been crowned Mrs. District of Columbia some years back.

Judges include actress Connie Stevens and Iraq war prisoner of war Jessica Lynch.

Whether you take these events seriously or watch them just to snicker, “Mrs. America” may be the biggest beauty contest for the foreseeable future.

The Miss America pageant, traditionally broadcast in September, lost its network, has left Atlantic City and appears to be in financial limbo. It’s a good thing Bert Parks isn’t around to see that.

Other highlights

Down to eight on “So You Think You Can Dance” (8 p.m., Fox).

The raft escapees catch something strange on their radar on the season finale of “Lost” (9 p.m., ABC). Down the hatch!

A coffee shop shooting on “CSI: NY” (10 p.m., CBS).

A train-track-suicide bid turns homicidal on “Law & Order” (10 p.m., NBC).

Inventors vie for a chance to sell their contraptions on a home-shopping channel on “Made in the USA” (10 p.m., USA).

Cris Carter, Cris Collinsworth, Bob Costas and Dan Marino return for the 29th season of “Inside the NFL” (10 p.m., HBO).

Cult choice

A stranger (Paul Newman) visits a frozen futuristic city in director Robert Altman’s 1979 drama “Quintet” (5 p.m., Fox Movie Channel).

Series notes

Clips from new shows on “Sneak Peek” (8 p.m., CBS) … On two episodes of “George Lopez” (ABC), Stacy Keach (8 p.m.), and negotiations (8:30 p.m.) … Auditions on “R U the Girl” (8 p.m., UPN) … The fast track on “One Tree Hill” (8 p.m., WB) … Greg’s new job on “Yes, Dear” (8:30 p.m., CBS).

Results read on “Rock Star: INXS” (9 p.m., CBS) … An atheist meets his maker on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (9 p.m., NBC) … Harry Hamlin guest-stars on “Veronica Mars” (9 p.m., UPN) … Amnesia strikes the boy of steel on “Smallville” (9 p.m., WB).

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.