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October 13, 2015

The Ex List -- An early look

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 2nd 2008 1:03PM
The Ex List
When I first saw the pilot for CBS's The Ex List back in June, something about it bugged me. Sure, it was pleasant enough, and the show's premise -- a woman goes back through her past to find "the one," based on a psychic's reading -- seemed like it was fertile ground for stories and funny moments. Add in the presence of the charming Diane Ruggiero as show-runner, and there was potential for a pretty good Friday night diversion.

But it did bug me, and I couldn't put my finger on it until I saw the new version of the show's pilot, which airs tomorrow night at 9 PM ET. Yes, it's nice and pleasant. Even funny at times. But I don't care at all about Bella Bloom, her friends, or her quest. In fact, that quest seems a little sad to me. And the departure of Ruggiero isn't going to make that any better.

The premise is established very quickly, almost too quickly: a psychic that Bella Bloom (Elizabeth Reaser) gets for her sister's bachelorette party tells the 33-year-old, perpetually-single florist that if she doesn't get married within a year, she'll die alone. In addition, the man she'll marry comes from the extensive list of guys she's been romantically involved with already. The term "romantically involved" is a loose one; it can be anyone from an ex-boyfriend to someone who had a crush on her in grammar school. Bella is told to look for "signs" to help her on her journey. She's helped along by the psychic, her too-bubbly-by-half sister and three friends that seem to be written solely to lie in a kiddie pool and spout bon mots.

In the pilot, Bella is lead by signs like bird poop towards a weepy singer-songwriter that she dumped on his birthday. Now he's all angry and dark and of course Bella finds him irresistible. And there's the rub: it seems like, by rehashing this list of people she dumped or dumped on her, Bella is just reliving her romantic failures and seems bound to be burned by them again. It's like My Name Is Earl meets Groundhog Day, but without any hope that Bella will become anything but more pathetic and desperate.

The San Diego scenery is nice, as is Reaser's beach bunny wardrobe (though it seems more suitable for a 23-year-old than a 33-year-old). The quippy Greek chorus that is made up of her friends, sister, and an ex-live-in-boyfriend who never wanted to get married seem to exist as moons that revolve around Planet Bella. For instance, in the pilot's B-story, best friend Augie (Adam Rothenberg) and girlfriend Vivian (Alexandra Breckenridge) argue over the deep and controversial topic of Vivian's shaved bajingo. Their stories may develop over time, but then again, the show may be so enamored with Bella's quest, that they may end up being nothing more than quote machines.

Based on what Ruggiero told Alan Sepinwall of The Star-Ledger after she left the show, though, I doubt that's going to happen. CBS wants to adhere as closely to the original Israeli version of the show as much as possible, making Bella's quest the central part of the show, not just an aspect of her life. "I felt very strongly that she has to have a regular life, and this weird quest has to almost feel like a burden at times," she told Sepinwall. "She has to feel put upon, otherwise she bugs me."

She bugs me too, Diane. And now that you're not on the show anymore, I'm sure she'll bug me even more. Guess I'll need to watch something else on Friday nights.

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I don't think this show was meant as a guy show, its sad they went and put NCIS in its place. I'm burnt out on all the forensics shows on CBS-I think its four now? One chick show is not too much to ask...The irony is that I read a cancelled shows list one day-it was not on it, and next day NCIS was on instead....Definitely weird. Yeah, I do miss Alex on Moonlighting, seems CBS cancels female friendly shows....I live in Florida, and I can relate to the people in this show, too....Too bad they shot themselves in the foot on this.....

November 12 2008 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really like this show, I thought Elizabeth Reaser was totally fetching and her character is quirky and adorable in the way girls like her are--she nails it. But I confess, I feel an emotional attachment to this show because I lived in Ocean Beach for a year during a rough patch in my life, and the fact that it is set and shot in Ocean Beach really grabbed me. I'll keep watching for those two reasons alone.

October 25 2008 at 11:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought the show was utter crap. Nothing to get a grip on , she is unbelievable as Bella, she has tanked on any of her recent show appearences (Saved or Greys Anatomy).
The premises are really stupid too, she has to find her soulmate within the year (why? do we care?) amongst previous boyfriends (how can someone so stupid have such a long list?).

CBS has done it again, Moonlight was nice and they replace it with this... good job!

October 05 2008 at 7:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So, I post this after I've seen the show tonight, and I liked it a lot better than I thought I would (I still wish they hadn't canned Moonlight, but that's another thing altogether.)

I liked that the pilot ep moved fast, that was actually pretty refreshing, given how some shows tend to let things drag on and on. Sure, her quest is going to drag on, but the situation & person involved will be different. I do wish they hadn't given so much away in that preview show CBS did a couple weeks back. They spoiled just about every pilot they put out this fall, other than a few details we knew everything that happens in this opener. I glad they didn't entirely spoil Numbers, though, I thought the writing in it was rather weak for a season opener.Oh well.

October 04 2008 at 4:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Elizabeth Reaser is yummy.

October 03 2008 at 11:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Friday night slot scares me, but I think this show will do pretty well.

Care to make a wager on it, Joel?

October 02 2008 at 2:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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