Maybe CBS and Jenna Elfman can solve each other’s dilemmas. CBS has three-quarters of a strong Monday comedy block with hits “How I Met Your Mother” and “Two and a Half Men” and the rising “The Big Bang Theory.” Still, there’s always a weak one in CBS’ lineup (The title of last fall’s fourth series, “Worst Week,” was half-right.)
The pixieish, goofy Elfman has been looking for the right vehicle since “Dharma & Greg” and her breakthrough role of free-spirit Dharma Montgomery ended in 2002. Ironically, her lone starring series role since then, 2006’s “Courting Alex,” was one of those CBS Monday failures, despite the presence of the acerbic Dabney Coleman as her father.
Now comes “Accidentally on Purpose,” which debuts at 8:30 tonight on CBS. The sitcom stars Elfman as Billie, a newspaper film critic who has just ended a long relationship with her boss James (Grant Show).
Feeling down, she goes out to a bar with her best friend Olivia (the always great Ashley Jensen, “Ugly Betty”) and her sister Abby (Lennon Parham). There she hooks up with charming young sous-chef Zack (Jon Foster).
This boy toy is just what Billie needed, until she discovers that she’s pregnant. Given an out by Billie, Zack opts to take responsibility as the father. He moves into Billie’s apartment, and that’s when the fun begins.
Zack’s freeloading friends soon follow and Billie’s apartment takes on a frat-house atmosphere. So the question becomes whether or not Billie and Zack’s relationship can flourish despite their many differences.
Yes, it’s another “Odd Couple” sitcom, just like Elfman’s last hit. But “Dharma & Greg” worked best when opposites clashed, which doesn’t happen much here. The likeable Elfman can only carry things so far on her own, and there’s not enough script or supporting cast here to suggest “Accidentally on Purpose” will last the length of Billie’s pregnancy.