'Push' different but not unique

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Viewers with memories of 1990 may be suffering a major case of deja vu. George Bush is in the White House. There is talk of war in Iraq, and a show that looks suspiciously like "Twin Peaks" has just debuted. Except this murky mystery is called "Push, Nevada" (8 p.m., ABC).

Like "Twin Peaks" and its many imitators, "Push" wears its quirky nature on its stylish sleeve. Everything about this series says "offbeat." Shot in the washed-out color photography made famous by many music videos and used to good effect in Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic," Push also employs speeded-up photography and jerky editing techniques to keep viewers on their toes. The effects are as unnecessary as they are obvious.

The brainchild of Ben Affleck ("Good Will Hunting") and Sean Bailey ("Project Greenlight"), this episode of "Push" will be repeated at 7 p.m. Thursday, followed by a new episode. With its quirky plot, limited run and game-show gimmickry, "Push" seems a lot like a summer replacement show. I have a feeling that when this moves to Thursday nights, it may get summer replacement ratings, as well.

� Comedienne Bonnie Hunt stars in "Life with Bonnie" (7:30 p.m., ABC) as the busy host of "Morning Chicago," a local television chatfest. The series attempts to mine gentle humor from her attempts to juggle the roles of wife, star and mother. Although it's pretty hard not to like the good-natured Hunt and her cast, the comedy on "Bonnie" relies on a lot of physical gags and situations that seem to take forever to unfold. Viewers with a quick hand on the remote may not sit still for this old-fashioned sitcom.

� There are at least 80 simple reasons not to watch "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" (7 p.m., ABC). John Ritter stars as Paul Hennessy, a clueless newspaper columnist (just like Raymond!) whose feeble attempts to speak in teenage lingo pass for comic dialogue. His pretty daughter Bridget (Kaley Cuoco) is a two-dimensional teen clich� who spouts lines like "Dad, we're the thong generation!" John shares zero chemistry with his wife Cate (Katey Sagal), who is mercifully AWOL for most of episode one. Paul has more credible conversations with his shy and sensitive daughter Kerry (Amy Davidson), but they do little to redeem this smug and completely forgettable comedy.

Tonight's other highlights

� The cast members reminisce on "Cosby Show: A Look Back" (7 p.m., NBC).

� Eric follows Donna to California on the fifth-season premiere of "That '70s Show" (7 p.m., Fox).

� Sean starts a new business venture on the third-season opener of "Grounded for Life" (7 p.m., Fox).

� Teams compete at sports-related tasks as they travel across the country on the new "reality" game show, "Beg, Borrow & Deal" (7 p.m., ESPN).

� The weekly nature series "Mutual Of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" (7 p.m., Animal Planet) returns to the dial for the first time since 1985.

� Big-screen bloopers unfold on "Funniest Movie Outtakes" (8 p.m., Fox).

� Morning chatter at night on "Regis and Kelly in Primetime" (9 p.m., ABC).

� Photogenic college-aged exhibitionists share a house in Las Vegas as the 12th version of "The Real World" (9 p.m., MTV) begins.