Frothy, funny soap scrubs up beau­ti­fully

Ugly Betty 7.30pm, Seven

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Ros­alie Hig­son

HALF­WAY through the first se­ries of Ugly Betty seems a good time to check the tem­per­a­ture of the hit US com­edy. For those who haven’t been watch­ing, the story so far is way too labyrinthine to pre­cis here.

It is based on a Colom­bian soap, or te­len­ov­ela , called Yo soy Betty, la fea and, briefly, it all be­gan 14 episodes ago as bright Betty Suarez ( Amer­ica Fer­rera) from sub­ur­ban Queens landed a job at New York’s ul­tra- glam Mode mag­a­zine as as­sis­tant to randy Daniel Meade, played by Eric Mabius, scion of the ul­tra- rich Meade fam­ily.

Daniel is af­fa­ble but spoiled and has trou­ble keep­ing his hands off the gor­geous women who sur­round him ev­ery day. Ini­tially she is sent in as a spoiler to stop him bonk­ing his as­sis­tants, but soon good, clever Betty wins him over and he be­comes some­thing of a new man.

Much of the ac­tion re­volves around the all- white Mode of­fice and its pop­u­la­tion of fash- mag slags, as Ab Fab’s Patsy Stone would say.

Then there is the Meade fam­ily. Last week Brad­ford ( Alan Dale) was tossed in jail on sus­pi­cion of the mur­der of his for­mer Mode ed­i­tor and mistress Fey Som­mers.

New York Fash­ion Week took on a new di­men­sion as son Alex, thought to be dead for the past two years, popped up as gor­geous Alexis ( Re­becca Romijn), re­gen­dered and ready for re­venge. Phew. This episode is called Brothers and suf­fice it to say the plot thick­ens; Betty ends up naked in the spa with Daniel’s al­co­holic mother, Claire ( Ju­dith Light).

The show’s other cen­tre of ac­tion is Betty’s hum­ble home and nor­mal fam­ily in Queens.

Betty even has a love life, al­though it looks as if her wet boyfriend is fi­nally go­ing to get the flick.

Betty’s writ­ers toss light and dark into a de­light­ful, campy, but not too campy, soap with a serve of satire on the side.

The main char­ac­ters are brightly etched, in­clud­ing Wil­helmina Slater ( Vanessa Wil­liams), the wannabe ed­i­tor whose plans are foiled at ev­ery turn. All per­for­mances are nicely judged, from the silly, such as tag team Marc ( Michael Urie) and Amanda ( Becki New­ton) to the straight, Betty’s fa­ther Ig­na­cio ( Tony Plana) and wardrobe mistress Christina ( Ash­ley Jensen).

Betty’s pro­duc­ers ramp up the colour and set de­sign, akin to the height­ened re­al­ity of CSI: Mi­ami or the beau­ti­fully chore­ographed Nip/ Tuck. Nat­u­rally, this hy­per- re­al­ism is more ob­vi­ous the big­ger and bet­ter your television screen.

Ugly Betty be­gan well and is get­ting bet­ter as it goes along. As the char­ac­ter who holds to­gether the crazy world of Ugly Betty, Fer­rara well de­serves her best ac­tress Golden Globe. Betty may be a lit­tle chal­lenged in the eye­brow re­gion, but no­body else on our screens can do in­ner beauty like she does.

De­light­ful: Ac­tor Amer­ica Fer­rera of­fers a beau­ti­fully re­alised per­for­mance

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