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TV review: Of Tuesday night's 2 new comedies, only one is terrible

TV review: Of Tuesday night's 2 new comedies, only one is terrible

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"Selfie," 7 p.m. Tuesdays on ABC beginning tonight

Two and a half stars (out of four)

"Manhattan Love Story," 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays on ABC beginning tonight

One and a half stars (out of four)

Romantic comedies live or die on chemistry. Do the lead characters have enough to keep us interested for the length of a movie or, much tougher, the duration of a television series?

Two new ABC sitcoms take the chemistry test beginning tonight. Neither is nearly perfect, and both veer into annoying, but one has a little more of the fizz that a chemical reaction creates.

The better show is "Selfie" (7 p.m.), and to see its potential, you'll have to grit your teeth through a lot of painful moments early on. Karen Gillan, almost unrecognizable as companion Amy Pond from the Matt Smith era on "Doctor Who," plays Eliza Dooley, a self-obsessed social media star who measures all worth via online "likes."

Eliza would never realize no one actually likes (rather than "likes") her, until she grossly humiliates herself on an airplane in an incident that instantly goes viral.

For help in reinventing herself, she turns to stiff-necked marketing specialist Henry Higgins (John Cho), who scorns her but reluctantly accepts the challenge. Chemistry ensues, and thank heavens for that.

Maybe you've recognized "Selfie," from Emily Kapnek ("Suburgatory"), as "My Fair Lady," right down to the characters' names. The theme is eternal, and the potential for ongoing entertainment is there.

I wish the premiere were smarter and more subtle. But I like Gillan (even minus her wonderful Scottish accent) and Cho (in a well-deserved lead role), and I'll tune in again for their chemistry.

On the other hand, the lead characters for whom we're supposed to root in "Manhattan Love Story" (7:30 p.m.) feel as slapped together as people stranded at a speed-dating event.

The convention here is that we hear what they're really thinking, and they aren't thinking anything but battle of the sexes stereotypes. (He wants to sleep with every woman he passes on the street; she wants every handbag.)

He's Peter (Jake McDorman); she's Dana (Analeigh Tipton, a runner-up on "America's Next Top Model"). He's a suave

New Yorker and she's new in town. Their date goes badly, but apparently, they will go out again (remember the title?) and we're expected to join them.

No. No, thanks. No chemistry.

Gail Pennington is the television critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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