Fox--a limited network whose limits are ever widening--is using the summer in part to poke its nose into Wednesday nights. But the two short-run series it introduces tonight (on Channels 11 and 6) vividly illustrate the difference between first-run and original.
The series are "Glory Days" (at 8 p.m.), a drama, and "Molloy" (at 9 p.m.), a half-hour comedy. New they are; original they aren't.
A rite-of-passage story from "21 Jump Street" producer Patrick Hasburgh, "Glory Days" follows four boyhood friends on their very different paths after high school.
There's sensitive Walker (Brad Pitt), the jock, who drops out of college after two weeks, gets a job as a newspaper reporter, and suffers. There's Dave (Spike Alexander), the rookie cop, who kills someone in the line of duty tonight, and suffers. There's Dominic (Evan Mirand), the college plebe. There's dopey T-Bone (Nicholas Kallsen), who is anchored to such thudding lines as, "Women are like pizza. The older they get, the easier they are to pick up."
This time, you suffer.
None of these characters is particularly interesting or believable. Nor is the porous opening script, which raises moral and ethical questions only to leave them hanging. After poking fun at Dave's ineptness and then putting him in a life-or-death situation, for example, the story seems to casually dismiss the possibility that, at 18, he doesn't have the maturity to be a cop on the street.
The newspaper where Walker gets a job is simply preposterous. So is a scene in which 18-year-old Walker, the cub reporter, barges in on Dave's internal-affairs hearing and begins lecturing the assembled cops, who listen attentively.
At one point Walker's unscrupulous editor tells him: "Sometimes you have to bend the truth . . . just enough to sell a newspaper." That seems to be the philosophy guiding "Glory Days."
Meanwhile, there's not much wit guiding "Molloy." Thirteen-year-old Molloy Martin (Mayim Bialik) is a spritz of sanity in an upper-class sewer of shallow status seekers, forced by the death of her mother to live in the Beverly Hills household of her father, whose trendy second wife has two kids of her own.
Energized by Bialik, Molloy's a cute little kid whose best moments occur while working on a public-TV kids' show. On the home front, however, she sinks into a family cesspool of bikini-waxing, Mercedes-lusting, self-centered caricatures, none more overcooked or overwritten than her 16-year-old stepsister, Courtney (Jennifer Aniston).
Tonight, Molloy's self-pitying father (Kevin Scannell) and vain stepmother (Pamela Brull) forget her birthday, leading to the inevitable Sitcom Tender Moment. One-two-three: Awwwwwww.
Next week's episode is worse, beginning with the 10-year-old stepbrother (Luke Edwards) accidentally starving his pet turtle to death, the seventh pet that he's killed. Well, that's Beverly Hills for you.