Two new cable series for Wednesday night

Dolly Wells (left), Emily Mortimer, friends playing friends, in the sitcom "Dolly & Em."
Dolly Wells (left), Emily Mortimer, friends playing friends, in the sitcom "Dolly & Em." (MISCHA RICHTER)
Posted: March 20, 2014

Wednesday night will see the premiere of two cable series very much from the opposite ends of the spectrum.

CW adds to its already extensive lineup of fantasy and sci-fi dramas teeming with hot, hardbodied teens with the dystopian morality play The 100 at 9 p.m., while HBO will kick off Doll & Em at 10 p.m., a sitcom for grown-ups starring the terrific British actress Emily Mortimer.

Cocreated and cowritten by Mortimer and her real-life best friend Dolly Wells, Doll & Em is a droll, if not exactly original, behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood in the tradition of HBO hits Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Like them, Doll & Em also is based on real life - but as run through a twisted, melodramatic wringer.

Mortimer plays successful actress Emily, who tries to help her struggling childhood friend Dolly by flying her out to the West Coast and hiring her as a personal assistant.

It's a decision she'll live to regret. Dolly is high-maintenance and very, very needy. She upstages Emily on- and off-set as she tries to win film industry friends.

Doll & Em takes nice digs at the industry: Over its six half-hour episodes, we follow Emily through the torturous process of shooting a gangster film about a female godfather.

Doll & Em is enlivened by an impressive list of guest stars including Susan Sarandon, John Cusack, Chloƫ Sevigny, and Ben Chaplin. It's hardly required viewing, but it's enjoyable, light fun.

Very hot teens, dystopia-style

It seems the CW can't throw enough sexy, dark (and violent) teens on the screen.

The teen-errific The 100, a sci-fi thriller set in a dystopian post-nuclear age, is no exception. What is surprising is that the series, an adaptation of the Kass Morgan novel, is well conceived, cleverly plotted, and quite exciting.

The premise isn't revolutionary: A nuclear holocaust has wiped out the human population, except for a lucky few who set up camp at a space station called . . . the Ark.

Like Battlestar Galactica, the drama shows how desperate situations can bring out the best, but more often the worst, in people. Wherever they turn, people see little but certain annihilation. Tyranny thrives, and the laws are harsh: Steal a loaf of bread and you'll get the death sentence.

That is, except for kids. They're imprisoned until their 18th birthday. Then they're thrown a special party: Execution! (Whoa, dude!)

The story opens nearly 100 years later. The Ark's leaders (played by Isaiah Washington, Paige Turco, and Kelly Hu) have a crisis on their hands: Supplies are running out and the only way to survive is to cull the population.

So they try to kill two birds with one stone by sending 100 teens back to Earth. It's a win-win: Either the kids die of radiation poisoning, or they survive and set up shop to welcome back the rest of the population.

By the end of the pilot, things have gone all Lord of the Flies: Chaos rules, the strong kids prey mercilessly on the weaker ones, and everyone's outfits get really, really muddy. Led by nihilist Bellamy (Bobby Morley), the bad kids seek to destroy.

There also are a few good kids. They follow genius would-be scientist and stunning beauty Clarke (Eliza Taylor), who advises them to fight for order and truth.

Can the 100 get their act together and establish an Edenic new civilization? Or will they perish in a nihilistic orgy of sex and violence? Tune in and find out.


TV REVIEW

The 100

9 p.m. Wednesday on CW57

Doll & Em

10 p.m. Wednesday on HBO


tirdad@phillynews.com

215-854-2736

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