Ellen Gray: 'Made in Jersey': Another legal drama, on CBS

Starring in "Made in Jersey" is Janet Montgomery (center), with Erin Cummings (left) and Joe Siravo.
Starring in "Made in Jersey" is Janet Montgomery (center), with Erin Cummings (left) and Joe Siravo. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: September 28, 2012

* MADE IN JERSEY. 9 p.m. Friday,

CBS 3.

* FRINGE. 9 p.m. Friday, Fox 29.

IT TAKES only about two minutes for "Made in Jersey" to get its lead down to her pretty bra.

I don't know if that's a record, but it says a lot about how deftly CBS' newest drama handles the introduction of Martina Garetti (Janet Montgomery), Jersey-girl-turned-Manhattan-lawyer, that women should be able to relate to her, even in her undies.

I suspect guys will be fine with her, too.

Montgomery ("Black Swan"), a British actress whose New Joisey accent is credible enough (though maybe a little heavier than it needs to be at times), is almost ridiculously likable as Martina, who, like just about everyone else on CBS' drama payroll, solves murders for a living.

Well, technically she's paid to be a first-year associate, so she probably does other things, too. But in the pilot written by "Made in Jersey" creator (and Moorestown native) Dana Calvo, it's murder. Martina quickly emerges as an eager legal eagle, the kind who brings her assistant coffee and hits the streets to investigate cases.

Not everyone at her new firm's impressed with the wisdom she's gleaned from the Trenton D.A.'s office and from growing up in a family of beauticians, but she should fit in just fine between "CSI: NY" and "Blue Bloods."

"What on earth are amber gypsies?"

That's the line of the week from Fox's "Fringe," which returns Friday for its final, 13-episode season with an episode that gives me hope that the show's writers know where they're taking us.

Please don't ask me to explain exactly which universe the show's operating in at the moment or how it got there. Just know that "Fringe" has such a strong emotional component that the feelings continue to matter at least as much as the fringe-iness.

The Sunday squeeze

Drama junkies, crank up your DVRs.

Because Sunday's not just football night in America - it's the home of enough quality drama to last most of your week.

The latest seasons of "Boardwalk Empire" (9 p.m., HBO) and "Treme" (10 p.m., HBO) are already under way. Starting Sunday, Showtime joins the fray with the Season 7 premiere of "Dexter" at 9, followed by the Season 2 premiere of its Emmy-winning "Homeland" at 10.

I thought I was ready to part ways with "Dexter," but with TV's most sympathetic serial killer finally in the place he should have been a couple of seasons ago, I'm interested again.

"Homeland," meanwhile, gets off to a promising start, as the writers figure out a reasonably credible way to get Carrie (Claire Danes), whose CIA career looked as fried as her memory in last season's finale, back in the mix, while giving Brody (Damian Lewis) a whole set of new challenges and an even higher political profile.

With all due respect to "Breaking Bad," the Emmy voters got this one right about the first season of "Homeland." I can't wait to see more of its second.

For people without premium cable, you'd think the choices would be simpler. But not so much:

* On CBS, "The Good Wife" returns (9 p.m., CBS 3), followed by "The Mentalist" (10 p.m., CBS 3). I've seen the first three episodes of "The Good Wife," and even fans who haven't been waiting for months to meet the guy scary enough to have spooked Kalinda (Archie Punjabi) should find it plenty interesting. Look for guest appearances by Nathan Lane, Kristin Chenoweth and Maura Tierney.

* ABC has this whole good vs. evil theme going, as "Once Upon a Time" (8 p.m., 6 ABC) leads into the transplanted "Revenge" at 9, after which evil pretty much triumphs in the new "666 Park Avenue," a "Rosemary's Baby"-like tale of the Upper East Side (set in a building, the Ansonia, that's actually on the Upper West Side).

Terry O'Quinn ("Lost") and Vanessa Williams ("Desperate Housewives") star as the building owners, who hire a young couple (Dave Annable and Rachael Taylor) as building managers in exchange for a fabulous, free apartment. What could possibly go wrong?

I don't mind campy - hey, I've waited months for the return of "Revenge" - but the pilot for "666" piles the horrors so high, it begins to seem more tedious than terrifying. O'Quinn isn't an actor who needs special effects to scare us silly, so I'm hoping this will get better, even if I'm not sure how I'll fit it in.

* PBS is also a contender, as it introduces the six-part BBC miniseries "Call the Midwife" (8 p.m., WHYY 12).

Based on a memoir by Jennifer Worth about her experience as a nurse-midwife in the East End of London in the 1950s, its finale earlier this year drew more viewers in Britain than the first-season finale of "Downton Abbey" did.

I'm not sure Americans will be equally drawn to it - childbirth and poverty's a tougher sell than Maggie Smith and star-crossed lovers - but it's a charming throwback of a show that probably should have been saved for a less busy time.

Sunday's also the night that WHYY, which preempted the second and third episodes of "Masterpiece Mystery!: Wallander III" for its pledge programming, plans to air those episodes, back to back, starting at 9.


Contact Ellen Gray at graye@phillynews.com or 215-854-5950. Follow her on Twitter @elgray. Read her blog at EllenGray.tv.

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