Getting a trial on NBC starting tonight is an uneven but somewhat promisingcomedy that creates an odd coupling of a snide, emotionally needy 16-year-old toughie and the neurotic high school official she believes to be her aunt.
"M.Y.O.B." (Mind Your Own Business) has going for it especially the edgy work of Katharine Towne, who strikes a perfect balance between vulnerability and Lolita-esque bawdiness and sinew as caustic, cynical, sexual Riley Veatch, whose mother abandoned her when she was an infant.
She shows up at Gossett High School tonight, latching on to an assistant principal named Opal (played by Lauren Graham), believing she's her mother's older sibling.
Not that it will matter one way or another, as Riley moves in with the reluctant Opal, starting a tenuous coexistence that in the premiere and a second episode has the teenager becoming wiser and more stable than the adult while using her wits and shrewdness to extricate the older woman from trouble.
"So we're stuck together till that very special episode when I find my birth mother," says Riley in a tongue-in-cheek voice-over that becomes a sendup of formulaic TV.
NBC's entertainment president, Garth Ancier, predicts "M.Y.O.B." will appeal to "teens and adults alike." In that regard, it opens with some gratuitous references to oral sex. Welcome to prime time in 2000.
Some of the dialogue is urbanely clever, and Riley is bright and funny in deploying her eyes and ears like sensors on behalf of fishing Opal from the soup. Her manipulative schemes reach fruition, though, only because these are scripts of convenience, with Riley just happening to be in the right place at the right time. And Opal's reluctance to take command is barely tolerable in that coming episode that finds her best friend, a teacher, having a fling with a student.
Again, prime time in 2000.
* "M.Y.O.B." can be seen tonight at 9:30 on NBC. The network has rated it TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children).