What To See

  • (2 of 2)

    Pasadena Fox Fridays, 9 p.m. E.T.

    Granted, being the best prime-time soap in years (following Central Park West, Savannah and Titans) is like being the best ski slope in Florida. But this smart, spooky, sly sudser is not just the best of its breed. It's a breed apart, as much Chinatown as Dallas.

    Pasadena rips open the snake's nest of the Greeleys, an old-money media-baron clan. Teenager Lily Greeley McAllister (Alison Lohman) narrates in flashback, telling what happened "before the scandal, before the murder, before the trial" that loom in the show's future. After a drifter breaks into the family home, confronts Lily about a mystery woman ("Tell me where she's buried!") and kills himself, she begins sleuthing her family's twisted history. Grandpa (Philip Baker Hall) kept Catholics and Jews out of Los Angeles' country clubs; Dad (Martin Donovan) is having an affair; and Mom (Dana Delany) knows more about the dead man than she's letting on.

    There's not much Dynasty-style camp here, just a great cast and sardonic writing by creator Mike White (Chuck and Buck). Judging by the polished pilot (directed by Diane Keaton) and the weirder, eerier and funnier follow-up, this is the best take on the creepy rich since Fox's short-lived Profit (1996). Pasadena may offer few Champagne wishes and caviar dreams, but it addictively retells one of the oldest stories in the world: your family is the strangest mystery you will ever unravel.

    1. 1
    2. 2
    3. Next Page