‘Hot Properties,’ on the wrong block
A smart show but left to die on Friday night
October 13, 2005
ABC’s new sitcom Hot Properties has sharp writing, an excellent cast and the appropriately raunchy tone of a “Sex and the City” cleaned up for network primetime. Lots of people ought to be talking about it. They are not, and indeed the prospects for this show look quite dim.
Properties is one of the season’s funniest new sitcoms, but for reasons best known to ABC, the network has doomed the show by sticking it on the wrong night. It airs on Fridays at 9:30 p.m. after the toothless Hope & Faith and in the midst of what’s long been family hour on ABC, TGIF.
What was the network thinking when it slotted Properties in that timeslot? The sitcom garnered some buzz during pilot development season but that died as the upfront approached. Clearly the network had already written the show off when it came time to make up the fall schedule.
It’s hard to imagine ABC, with three of the biggest hits on TV, seeing this as a chance to bolster its Friday lineup with a show of Properties’ qualities. The audience that Properties would play best with, women 18-34, are not at home to watch TV on Fridays at 9:30.
For sure, “Properties” has its flaws. Its premise isn’t all that original: four very attractive real estate women bitching about men. And the SATC reverence is way overdone, with the first episode featuring the Sex-inspired book He’s Just Not That Into You, a reference to gaydar, or the ability to pick out gay men, and even a former Sex cast member, Evan Handler.
Yet Properties rises above being a mere knockoff by its wit and skillfully drawn characters. These women are actually likable.
Gail O’Grady (American Dreams) plays the owner of the real estate business, a fortysomething woman who recently married a 25-year-old and is now undergoing fertility treatment. She looks out for the others like a wise older sister while emitting an effortless sex appeal that Kim Cattrall would envy.
But the real standout is former Mad TV star Nicole Sullivan, playing whiny, slutty Chloe. She provides many of the show’s best one-liners. Her character is clearly a mess, yet Sullivan’s delivery is so fiery that she never seems pathetic.
Sultry Lola (Sofia Vergara) and virginal Emerson (Christina Moore) fill out the foursome, and they show an immediate rapport, as in tonight’s episode when they all get drunk and do silly things they’ll later regret, like leaving inappropriate voicemails.
Writer and creator Suzanne Martin (the WB’s Maybe It’s Me) sometimes goes for the obvious joke but more often delivers lines that are original and unexpected.
That wit doesn’t always rise to the occasion. When the male doctors from down the hall drop by, the jokes fall flat. Martin can’t write as well for men. And though the first two episodes are fun, there’s no conflict in the show and no sense yet of any sort of running plotline developing, something SATC excelled at.
But Properties’ biggest worry right now is its timeslot. It needs something to persuade ABC to move it to another night, one on which single women are actually home to watch it, but that something has yet to arrive. It’s received only mixed reviews, and its premiere was a middling one, bettering Hope’s numbers in adults 18-49 but still only averaging a 2.2.
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