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TELEVISION REVIEW

Passion is lacking the 'Second Time Around'

September 20, 2004|Samantha Bonar | Times Staff Writer

They say love is sweeter the second time around, but sometimes it's just more saccharine.

Reunited couple Ryan (Nicole Parker) and Jackson Muse (Boris Kodjoe) have high hopes for their second marriage to each other. But in the premiere of UPN's "Second Time Around" (tonight at 9:30), the pair discovers that old issues die hard.

Eight years earlier, Ryan and Jackson were married for a mere six months before their passion flamed out. After running into each other, they discover they are still in love and decide to give marriage another go. They formulate a "don't ask, don't tell, don't snoop" policy to let go of the past and focus on their future together.

The statistics are against the Muses. According to a 2002 Centers for Disease Control report, while 50% of marriages end in divorce, 67% of second marriages fail, and more quickly.

This underdog position should have been good for some dramatic tension. But unfortunately, instead of the boozing and brawling of your Dick (Burton) and Liz (Taylor), the Muses have a rather bland recoupling, as sweet and vapid as the show's Sade theme song.

Tonight's episode revolves around the favorite marriage-counselor issues of secrets and trust. It is revealed that, in their time apart, Ryan posed nude for an artist, conjuring Jackson's old bugaboo: jealousy. Jackson's little secret is a bit dirtier -- when he first reentered Ryan's life, he was engaged to someone else (a redhead named Daphne, variously referred to by Ryan and her pals as "Raggedy Ann" and "Big Red").

With the help of Jackson's brother Nigel (Brian White), Nigel's fiancee Paula (Danielle Nicolet) and their couples therapy group, Ryan and Jackson resolve their issues -- way too easily. Hugs all around.

Although real-life couple Parker and Kodjoe display undeniable chemistry, it is of the junior-high classroom variety, with too much learning of lessons and not enough explosions. Maybe they're just trying to play it safe the second time around. But without some real fireworks, this marriage -- and show -- will burn out quickly.

*

'Second Time Around'

Where: UPN

When: 9:30 tonight

Rating: The network has rated it TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children).

Nicole Parker...Ryan Muse

Boris Kodjoe...Jackson Muse

Brian White...Nigel Muse

Melissa De Sousa...Coco

Danielle Nicolet...Paula

Creators Ralph R. Farquhar, Michelle Listenbee-Brown. Director Stan Lathan. Executive producers Farquhar, Claude Brooks. Co-executive producer Listenbee-Brown.

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