The Monday Playlist: Carrie Diaries, Continuum, a Bones Double Feature and More
AnnaSophia Robb | Photo Credits: Giovanni Ruffino/The CW
Long before she met her Prince Charming in a man named Mr. Big, Carrie Bradshaw's adolescent life was still something of a swoon-inducing Cinderella story. That's the first impression from the CW's new The Carrie Diaries (8/7c, repeated an hour later), a likeably schmaltzy "prequel" to Sex and the City that finds the CW hewing closely to the ABC Family model that has lately stolen much of the channel's young-adult thunder.
Wide-eyed and heartfelt yet occasionally sharp-tongued, this is the story of how Carrie finds her voice — or should we say voice-over, which rarely lets up in this introduction to her world circa 1984 (with soundtrack and fashions never letting us forget it), an age before laptops and cell phones, when a BFF can insist (and maybe mean it) that "sex isn't everything." How times will change.
Bubbly AnnaSophia Robb plays young, so-far-virginal Carrie with a guileless spunk, introduced as she's about to re-enter her Connecticut high school's unforgiving social circle — ruled by the big-haired Donna LaDonna (Chloe Bridges) — after a summer in mourning for her gone-too-soon mom, leaving behind an overwhelmed dad (familiar TV face Matt Letscher) and a rebelliously sullen younger sis named Dorritt (Stefania Owen). To cheer Carrie up, dad arranges an internship for her at a Manhattan law firm — and naturally on her first day, she catches the eye of a style editor at ultra-trendy Interview magazine. (Or rather her purse does; Carrie even then had a gift for accessorizing.)
"I collect people," says the fabulous Larissa (Doctor Who's Freema Agyeman) as she instantly absorbs Carrie into her colorful circle of friends, unaware she's not even an undergrad (cue ABC Family's Jane By Design). And in the swirl that follows, Carrie meets her first gays. Or so she thinks. Back at school, it's like she's living out of the Grease playbook, as she makes a connection with the hot new guy, a poor little rich bad-boy (Life Unexpected's Austin Butler) with whom she shared some memorable moments in a swimming pool in an earlier summer.
When The Carrie Diaries gets out of Carrie's head, which is too eager to share thoughts like "It's the losing of love that makes us who we are," it's a diverting enough teen romance about a girl and the city that will change her, though lacking the surprise and distinctive tone of the John Hughes movies it seems to want to emulate. Even so, it's a step above the typical CW soap, and worth penciling in an appointment in your own TV diary.
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TIME COP: I want what she's wearing. That might be your initial reaction upon meeting Kiera (Rachel Nichols), a dogged police "Protector" from 2077 who inadvertently is catapulted back some 65 years — to our present — in pursuit of eight time-tripping terrorist fugitives. Decked out in a snug smart suit that absorbs bullets and has more high-tech bells and whistles than Batman's utility belt, the head-turning Kiera also is implanted with audio-visual bio upgrades in her skull that allow her to converse with a tech geek — because every fantasy-adventure must have one — who guides her through this strange, so-old-it's-new world.
That's the simple if not simplistic premise of Syfy's latest Canadian import Continuum (8/7c), which is also about a "lost girl" of sorts (Lost Girl returns for a new season at 10/9c). Kiera left a husband and young son behind, and as much as she wants to see justice done in her new guise helping the local police — how they buy her cover story requires a major leap of faith — she even more desperately wants to get back home. The most puzzling aspect of the series, judging from the first two episodes, is that the future that Kiera is trying to preserve and return to seems awfully bleak. This civilization is run by giant, soulless corporations that bailed out ruined governments, in the process quashing such values as representation and free speech. The terrorist thugs she's chasing (including Roger Cross, best remembered as Jack Bauer's ill-fated CTU buddy Curtis Manning) are clearly bad guys who've crossed the line in their explosive revolutionary fervor, but they seem to have a point.