April 28, 2014 12:00 PM


CBS, Thursdays, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT |


The list of failed TV shows based on hit films is dizzying. For every Friday Night Lights there are a dozen as bad as My Big Fat Greek Life. But Bad Teacher – based on the 2011 Cameron Diaz comedy – proves you can improve on success.

R-rated comedies are often dumbed down when they make the move to network television, but the team behind Bad Teacher has successfully reconfigured the raunchy comedy into a heartwarming sitcom starring Ari Graynor (For a Good Time, Call …) that is still bad in all the right ways.

Graynor’s portrayal of the titular teacher is deliciously decadent but also infused with an earnestness that was missing on the big screen. Graynor’s Meredith Davis even has somewhat honorable intentions for faking her way into a teaching position – looking for love among her students’ single dads. (As the recently scorned wife of a yacht mogul, she’s open to anyone, just as long as they’re loaded.)

It’s Graynor’s natural mix of sex appeal and girl-power charisma that allows Meredith to be believably forgiven for her self-serving antics by her colleagues, played by David Alan Grier, Sara Gilbert and the hilarious Kristin Davis, who is woefully underutilized as Meredith’s uptight nemesis.

The talented (but saccharine-sweet) supporting cast can seem misplaced at times in this edgier, single-camera comedy, but their sincerity gives Graynor permission to be as bad as she wants—and that’s a very good thing.


WGN America, Sundays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


With elements more akin to The Exorcism of Emily Rose than Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, WGN America’s first attempt at an original drama is a darker, grittier version of the infamous witch trials than your high school drama teacher would ever have allowed. Salem has no shortage of terrifying (and skin-baring) visuals, but the supernatural drama lacks in dramatic tension and suffers without the self-aware humor that made the similarly themed American Horror Story: Coven work so well. The attractive cast (led by Once and Again’s Shane West) do a fine job with the material provided, but Salem is ultimately less than bewitching.


ABC, Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


Any Homeland fan who wishes Claire Danes‘s Carrie would lighten up a bit and cry a little less is in luck with Kelly Reilly as neurologist Dr. Catherine Black in Black Box. Both Carrie and Catherine are living with bipolar disorder, but Reilly (Sherlock Holmes) is provided more room to portray the manic highs of the disease, allowing for moments of levity. The procedural elements of the medical drama hum along nicely, but it’s Reilly’s performance outside the operating room that makes this show worth watching.

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