By Ken Tucker
Updated June 21, 2010 at 11:32 AM EDT

Scoundrels, based on a hit show in New Zealand, wasted the talent of Virginia Madsen and the charm of David James Elliott. The two played the parents of a family of non-violent criminals; with the help of actors such as 24‘s Carlos Bernard as a cop, Scoundrels played crime for lame laughs.

The kids in the family were the usual assortment of dumb, sexy, rebellious, and intellectual. The hour included that sure-fire side-splitter, the grandma who knows martial arts and beats up young men easily. The dialogue included one daughter saying, “No way,” to which Madsen was forced by the script to reply, “Most definitely ‘way’!” She also had to use the term “butt-boy.” It really didn’t seem fair.

After we’d taped our sides back together, it was on to The Gates. The TV-math formula here was Desperate Housewives + Vampire Diaries – Eastwick.

The title of the show referred to a gated community populated by a few supernatural folks, in particular a pair of husband-and-wife vampires played by Rhona Mitra and Luke Mably. Mitra’s Claire seemed to be sucking the blood from a fellow who almost ran over her daughter not out of vengeance, but out of convenience and boredom.

The Gates gets a new resident, a chief of police (Frank Grillo), who has arrived with his family to escape some Unexplained Thing That Happened In Chicago. Never have I been more moved to use the cant word “Whatever” as a sentence.

It’s clear that The Gates wants to be a satire of suburbia with knowing winks to our rampant vampire-mania, but to be satire, the show would have to be clever. About the most clever The Gates gets is when Claire tries to hide some blood she’d drained in a few bottles of the family wine collection.

How convenient of ABC to schedule two of the worst new shows of the summer back-to-back. The network is making it easy for you to carve out two hours of reading time.

Did you watch these things? Did you like either of them more than I did?

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