March 18, 2002 12:00 PM

FOX (Mondays, 9 p.m. ET)

The March 11 premiere of this series makes me curious to watch the second episode—much as the sound of a driver slamming on the brakes draws me to the window to see if anybody got hurt.

The American Embassy, getting a five-week shot in Ally McBeal‘s slot, is like Ally Abroad almost all the way. Emma Brody (appealing Arija Bareikis from Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo) is a pretty 29-year-old blonde from Ohio who has just joined the staff of the U.S. embassy in London. A chronic self-doubter, she worries that the new job is just a means of “escaping a bad relationship and running from my real life.” This voice-over confession comes as Emma composes one of her regular e-mails to her sister back home—a narrative device that should be consigned to the dead-letter office. Emma appears a bit overwhelmed on the job, but her personal life is percolating already. A sexy CIA operative (David Cubitt) likes her looks, as does a handsome, mannerly British lord (Nicholas Irons).

At pilot’s end, violence strikes the embassy and a seemingly lightweight show suddenly demands to be taken seriously. Or will the mood swing back when Emma returns next week for more flirtations? Either way, I get that jerked-around feeling.

Bottom Line: Lost in London

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