Appealing ‘D.C.’ Shows Signs of Promise
The WB’s appealing new “D.C.” is about careerist Washingtonians in their 20s who are as distant from Monica Lewinsky as the Beltway is from Brentwood.
The drama doesn’t approach executive producer Dick Wolf’s best work, “Law & Order,” ever to be the benchmark against which his subsequent efforts will be judged.
Much closer, its five brownstone-sharing pals are “Friends” minus the goofiness, as they sometimes gather in front of the fire with their beer and popcorn looking like a commercial for L.L. Bean. Or better yet, this is “The West Wing” lite, where the federal government is a backdrop for featherless young characters whose callow life experiences to this point have not earned them the authority to join the capital’s gray suits in debating supreme issues of the day.
What they do initially ponder a lot, in addition to themselves, is the lifestyle of government, in ways that are often engaging as you wait for them to mature into characters able to hold your attention beyond a few episodes.
Two of these converging works-in-progress are best friends Mason (Gabriel Olds), a low-level worker for an influential Virginia senator, and Pete (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), an obscure lobbyist for something called Animals First.
After some entertaining skirmishes in the warrens of Congress, the Sunday premiere falls with a huge thud when the senator earnestly tells Mason, whose brief career is on the skids, that he’d give up everything “to be you right now.” Oh sure. Talk about cornball.
Yet “D.C.” is at its best, in the second episode, when Mason and Pete find themselves competing for the same State Department job, their once-sturdy friendship now coexisting tenuously with their intersecting ambitions.
There are some nice touches, too, in Mason’s relationship with his effervescent twin sister, Finley (Jacinda Barrett), who has left grad school to join him in D.C., much to the dismay of their parents. Also likable are the two remaining Georgetown housemates, lovers Sarah (Kristanna Loken), an emerging field producer at a CNN-style network, and Lewis (Daniel Sunjata), a Supreme Court clerk who so far is the show’s underdeveloped fifth wheel.
Exciting horizons before them, everyone in this brownstone is swell-looking and relatively unscarred. This is a WB series, after all. In 20 years, after accumulating baggage from lives lived, they may qualify for TV’s other series on the Potomac, “The West Wing.”
* “D.C.” can be seen Sundays at 8 p.m. on the WB. The network has rated it TV-PG-LD (may be unsuitable for young children with special advisories for coarse language and suggestive dialogue).