Ally McBeal Goes Abroad
The New York Post
March 11, 2002 -- "The American Embassy"

Just when all the series starring Gen Xers were starting to wear as thin as their starving stars, along comes "The American Embassy." Which, by the way, I was prepared to hate.

The thought of yet another cloying, fake-friendly ensemble show starring gorgeous 27-year- olds - as though no one else existed in the working world - was too much to bear.

And yes, everyone here is gorgeous. Yes, everyone is about 27, and, no, no one has body fat, but yes, thank God, no one is anorexic either.

And I was wrong about it being a stinker, OK? So, get off my back.

"The American Embassy," from Danny DeVito's Jersey Films, is a weird combination of stuff that somehow works. I was even charmed by its eccentricities. (Kill me now! I sound like a TV critic!)

Think of it this way: If "Ally McBeal" married "Spin City," their baby might be "The American Embassy."

In the premiere, Emma Brody (an Ohio State grad) comes to London for her first day of work at the embassy. (Meanwhile, in real life Arija Bareikis, who plays Brody, is no dummy either. She's a Stanford grad.)

Into the mix comes the fiery Doug Roach (David Cubitt), an American spook she meets on the plane and has a near-affair with. He's very adorable and very bad, so you'll see right off why she almost disgraced herself before she even landed.

What's also interesting here is that Emma has a running narrative via email with her sister and mom which moves the whole thing along.

In episode one, we get to meet the other vice-consuls - Carmen Jones, the jokester (Davenia McFadden), Liz Shoop, her flat mate (Reido Ayelsworth) - can't anyone have a regular name on this show? - her next door neighbor, the cross-dresser Gary Forbush (Michael Cerveris), and her boss (everyone's boss actually), Elique Polk (Jonathan Adams).

For added spice, there are two British lords, Jack and James Wellington (Jonathan Cake and Nicholas Irons). They are very cute and very tempting as well.

There, now you have the lay-out. It's the writing and Bareikis' combination of cute and smart that's not only believable, but as good an image of a young women on TV as you'll see these days. And she doesn't look like she needs to be hooked up to an I-V and force fed. She looks beautiful in a healthy way - for a change.

Look, it ain't rocket science, and it's about as accurate a portrait of how an embassy works as "Spin City" is about how the mayor's office works - or "Ally McBeal" is about life in a law firm.

However, it's better written than "Spin City," and not nearly as annoying as "Ally McBeal."

But then again, I only saw one episode. And I definitely will tune in for another.

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