'Selfie,' 'Manhattan Love Story' seek viewers

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John Cho remakes social-media star Karen Gillan in "Selfie."

SELFIE. 8 tonight, 6ABC.

MANHATTAN LOVE STORY. 8:30 tonight, 6ABC.

STALKER. 10 p.m. tomorrow, CBS3.

THEY SAY YOU never get a second chance to make a first impression, but without mistaken first impressions, most romantic comedies would end in Act 1.

That's true in different ways for two new rom-coms premiering tonight on ABC.

"Selfie," whose nose-wrinkle of a title almost anticipates the vomit to come, gets the worst out of the way early. An Instagram-worthy bout of air sickness sets a low point for social-media star Eliza Dooley (Karen Gillan, "Doctor Who," "Guardians of the Galaxy"), whose response, when her "friends" and followers turn on her, is to seek a makeover from her company's branding expert, Henry (John Cho, "Harold and Kumar," "Sleepy Hollow").

"Manhattan Love Story" drags out the bad first impression. It's one of the more annoying pilots of the season, thanks to the show's premise, which insists that we hear the otherwise unexpressed thoughts of Dana (Analeigh Tipton, "Crazy, Stupid, Love," "America's Next Top Model") and Peter (Jake McDorman, "Shameless") as they meet not-so-cute and not so interestingly.

A second episode was less annoying and intermittently charming, partly because of the ensemble, which includes Chloe Wepper and Nicolas Wright as Peter's siblings, Jade Catta-Preta as his sister-in-law (and Dana's college roommate) and Kurt Fuller as his father.

Might it also be that the writers decided to cut us a break on some of the telepathy and let the actors' faces do the work? Maybe Peter and Dana had better thoughts? I'm not exactly head over heels, but I'm not writing this one off yet.

Still, the winner tonight is "Suburgatory" creator Emily Kapnek's "Pygmalion"-inspired "Selfie," whose pairing of Gillan and Cho is also inspired.

I didn't love the vomit - I never do - but I loved Cho as the kind of leading man who needs fixing at least as much as the woman whose whole life he's attempting to rehab.

And although I missed Gillan's Scottish accent - and probably always will - the voice she told reporters was an "amalgamation of all the women who go to SoulCycle" turns out to be perfect for Eliza, whose lack of perfection should give "Selfie" plenty to tweet about.

'Stalker' on CBS

It's hard for me to get past the opening of CBS' "Stalker," in which a woman is chased, splashed with gasoline and then burned to death inside her car as her masked attacker looks on.

And not just because this is exactly the kind of scene that would have me reaching for the remote in my off-duty life.

"Stalker," which premieres tomorrow night, is a first for its creator, Kevin Williamson, who's done scary before - and in "The Following," killed with fire - but has never written a CBS crime drama.

Now he has, and Williamson, who became interested in stalking when Los Angeles police helped him deal with an "overzealous fan" after the release of "Scream 2," may well have things to say about the phenomenon that go beyond scaring the bejesus out of women.

There is, for instance, a secondary, less incendiary story in tomorrow's episode involving two male students.

And the show's two stars, Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott, are playing "threat assessment" investigators whose relationship to stalking may be more than strictly professional.

If you buy Williamson's contention that any of us can be stalkers - perusing an ex's Facebook page apparently counts - it's hard to argue that the subject's unworthy of examination.

And yet I keep coming back to the woman in the car.

And to CBS, which has overseen a lot more crime dramas than Williamson has written and issued a "revised" pilot for "Stalker" that still opened with that horror.

Exploiting women's worst fears is something that "Stalker's" lead-in, CBS' "Criminal Minds," did so effectively that its former lead, Mandy Patinkin, quit abruptly after two seasons, telling New York magazine, years later, "I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality."

Obviously there's an audience for what Patinkin couldn't stomach: That show enters its 10th season tomorrow.

"Stalker," too, may run for years, but most likely without me.

Because some first impressions can't help but stick.

 


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