Here's a shocking new idea for NBC: How about actually trying something new?
Instead, programmers have scheduled the network like they're college kids furnishing an apartment out of mom's hand-me-downs and tourist schlock from an over-the-border discount store. The result so far this season is a rare double play: the worst new drama in the camp revival "Knight Rider," coupled now with the worst sitcom in the Australian remake "Kath & Kim."
Witlessly Americanized by Michelle Nader ("King of Queens), Kath manages to waste the talents of Molly Shannon while exposing the limits of Selma Blair's comedy range. In this smug celebration of what the writers perceive to be suburban stupidity, Shannon and Blair play a mother and daughter whose main goals in life are to marry well and live like the celebrities they read about in the tabloids. Now and then a tiny idea will pop into one of their heads, but it's instantly displaced by thoughts of clothes, food, sex and shopping.
As the mother, Kath (Shannon) has an additional aim in these opening episodes: to get her monumentally unpleasant daughter (Blair) out of the house so mom can marry the sandwich man she loves (John Michael Higgins). Mom's last name is "Day," her fiancé's is "Knight," and I don't have to tell you how many times the show tries to get a laugh out of that.
Shannon is a talented sketch artist and a promising actress. But forced to carry weightless material, she falls back on exaggerated "SNL" shtick, never committing to the character enough to let us suspend our own disbelief. (Look at the work of Jaime Pressly and Ethan Suplee in similar dumb-trash roles in "My Name Is Earl" and you'll see the difference.) Even so, she fares better than Blair, who breaks up her glum stares and monotone delivery with random shrieks.
With Shannon and Higgins on hand, "Kath" can't help but stumble upon an occasional funny moment, most notably a dance routine in a gay bar. But that scene could have been lifted whole from "SNL" — and if there's one thing "Kath" and NBC don't need, it's another retread idea.
That network already has more of those than it can use.