Marc D. Allan

'Love Monkey' airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays, WISH Channel 8. Tom Cavanagh, third from left, stars.

In his previous series, Ed, Tom Cavanagh played a character who lost his wife and his job in the same day. He had a best male friend with whom he played basketball and hung out with, a best female friend in whom he confided and a cast of charming, quirky characters around him.

In his new show, Love Monkey (9 p.m. Tuesdays, WISH Channel 8), Cavanagh plays a character who loses his girlfriend and his job in the same day. He has three best male friends with whom he plays basketball and hangs around, a best female friend in whom he confides and a cast of charming, quirky characters.

Ed was a delightful show for two seasons, then tailed off dramatically.

Love Monkey has a delightful first episode. It's warm, funny and will leave viewers - especially music fans - with a smile plastered on their face. We'll have to see what happens from here.

This time out, Cavanagh is Tom Farrell, a hip, successful record company A&R who knows that Sid Vicious' real name was John Simon Ritchie ("but his friends called him Sly"), slips Dylan lyrics into conversation and is in the music business because he loves music. He's about to discover that his boss at Goliath Records - played by Eric Bogosian, who does malevolent characters as well as anyone - is in it for the money.

We meet Tom as he's vying to sign a John Mayer-like young singer-songwriter named Wayne (Teddy Geiger, a young musician whose career undoubtedly will get a huge boost from this exposure). Tom likes Wayne, but after he loses his job, he has a decision to make: Does he start his own label and try to sign Wayne or does he let Wayne go to a label with the money and clout needed to launch a newcomer's career?

At the same time, Tom must contend with his flaky girlfriend, who suddenly decides that she wants to get married. Now Tom has another decision to make.

Cavanagh is, as always, fun to watch and superb at handling snappy banter - although unlike Ed, his new character often doesn't know what to say. His friends, including an almost unrecognizable Jason Priestly playing the married one in the bunch, make up a kind of Metrosexuals in the City crew who have a remarkable amount of time to hang around together. And the subject matter - both the music business and love - is handled with intelligence and even some insight. As Tom's best female friend, Brandy (Judy Greer), points out, you don't want to end up being a love monkey, swinging aimlessly from branch to branch.

Day one is tough for Tom, but that's just the setup for the rest of his life and what should be a long run for this series. Longer and better than Ed, let's hope.


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