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Review

ABC Family's 'Young & Hungry,' 'Mystery Girls' are a mixed bag

TelevisionEntertainmentColumnABC Family (tv network)Tori SpellingABCEntourage (tv program)
ABC Family's new 'Young & Hungry' is more than occasionally funny yet works much too hard
Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth are a mystery in ABC Family's 'Mystery Girls'

Ditsy blonds and the gay men who love/hate them are getting a double-bill revival on ABC Family, which debuts two new comedies Wednesday with mixed to awful results.

Mixed would be "Young & Hungry," a more than occasionally funny show in which Gabi (Emily Osment), an appealing but financially challenged food blogger, becomes personal chef to Josh (Jonathan Sadowski), an appealing but romantically challenged tech-ionaire.

Executive produced by Ashley Tisdale, "Young & Hungry" feels much more Disney Channel than ABC Family. And that's not just because Osment is late of "Hannah Montana."

Osment is an accomplished physical and verbal comedian who is always fun to watch, particularly in a group, and this group is very much up to her standards. Josh's housekeeper, Yolanda (Kym Whitley), clearly graduated with top honors from Miss Pettigrew's School of Domestic Staff and One-Liners, and personal assistant Elliot is played by Rex Lee in a manner even more High Queen than his role on "Entourage." If that's possible.

Still, while there may be sex, Gabi, with her blond hair, can-do attitude and sunny outlook, is very much a Disney heroine who sticks out a bit in ABC Family's darker universe.

As does the jury-rigged setup: Foodie meets tech millionaire in a battle to determine which is trendier! The players are talented if a bit hamstrung by their roles (does every personal assistant now have to be a gay man who squeals?). Perhaps once it settles down from the inevitably overwrought pilot, "Young & Hungry" will give Osment the successful starring role she deserves.

Not so "Mystery Girls," which seems to believe that the reunion of "Beverly Hills, 90210" stars Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth is (a) something huge numbers of the populace has been waiting for and (b) all you really need to launch a television show.

It will surprise no one to learn that Spelling (who had to do something now that her ghastly reality series is over) and Garth also executive produce "Mystery Girls," in which two former stars of a '90s hit show of the same name come together to form an actual detective agency.

In a slightly sunnier version of "art" imitating life, Holly (Spelling) is the ditzier of the two, still living off her long-ago fame via various reality television shows while Charlie (Garth) is dying of boredom in the suburbs. When a young man (Miguel Pinzon) so old-school gay he can only sing the word "fabulous" witnesses a murder, he vows he will only talk to the subjects of his "obsesh," i.e., the Mystery Girls, who are then forced to reunite.

One minute they're insulting each other, the next they're becoming true detectives. It's actually not a bad idea for a show brave enough to actually satirize its characters (who doesn't love a washed-up starlet?) or the ubiquitousness of the detective series (at this stage, we actually have Dorian Gray teaming up with Victor Frankenstein in "Penny Dreadful" to solve a mystery).

Unfortunately, creator Shepard Boucher ("Men at Work") seems confined by the limitations of his stars, who are clearly not interested in actually exploring the real vagaries of fame. So we have a hollow, laugh-enhanced comedy in which the biggest draw is Tori Spelling proving she will do anything to remain on television.

But we knew that already.

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'Young & Hungry'

Where: ABC Family

When: 8 and 9 p.m. Wednesday

Rating: TV-14-DLS (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for suggestive dialogue, coarse language and sex)

'Mystery Girls'

Where: ABC Family

When: 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. Wednesday

Rating: TV-14-DL (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for suggestive dialogue and coarse language)

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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TelevisionEntertainmentColumnABC Family (tv network)Tori SpellingABCEntourage (tv program)
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