The Californiacally glamorous premise of 2000 MALIBU ROAD (CBS, Wednesdays, 9-10 p.m.) reflects the sun-bronzed soul of fringe-season prime time: Four very different women share a magnificent zillion-square-foot beachfront house. Three are beautiful, two are blond, one is Jennifer Beals from Flashdance. They come together as roommates (the owner is a former high-priced prostitute looking to go pure); they stay together as intertwined story lines. And—here’s the surprise—they click, in a sexy, smartly nasty little drama series that evokes some of the bad-biz thrills of The Player.
The first episode, which aired in a two-hour set-’em-up on Aug. 23, established Lisa Hartman (Knots Landing) as Jade, the ex-call girl; Jennifer Beals as Perry, a criminal lawyer; Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy) as Lindsay, a sweetly simple wannabe actress; and Tuesday Knight (General Hospital) as Lindsay’s sister, Joy. Joy is the self-described ”fat one”; she’s also a tarot-card-reading, psychobabbling schemer, and a hoot. Already we know that Jade has been set up on a murder charge, Perry may be getting in too deep defending an old schoolmate on charges of date rape, Lindsay’s career has been extravagantly manipulated by Joy, and Joy is uncontained, sticking her nose into everybody’s business to see what harm she can do. Already we want to know more. (Episodes run through Sept. 23.)
The series’ interesting bone structure reflects unusual parentage: It was written and created by Terry Louise Fisher (cocreator of L.A. Law), directed by Joel Schumacher (Flatliners, Dying Young), and coproduced by Aaron Spelling (Beverly Hills 90210), which explains something, perhaps, about the bathing-suit-and-beachfront quotient. And good bloodlines breed good acting. The women of 2000 Malibu Road act out life in the fast sand with considerable dignity, as if living as roommates in the humongous ocean-view house of a reformed hooker were the most natural thing in the world. Which, we all eagerly want to believe, it is, it is. B+