First impressions count, and "Accidentally on Purpose," the new Jenna Elfman comedy, begins with a poor one. Ashley Jensen -- an intelligent, subtle actress who has done lovely work on "Ugly Betty" and "Extras" -- speaks: "I can't do another office party; I've already slept with everyone here."
Alas, poor Ashley. Seconds later, she is advising Elfman, who is here named Billie and has slept only with their boss (Grant Show), to "perk up" her nipples to attract his attention. This Billie duly attempts, flicking fingers at her chest. It hurts! Alas, poor Family Hour!
Perhaps this would make more sense if these were not the offices of a -- sound of clearing throat -- daily newspaper. (I can say with a fair amount of assurance that the words, "I can't do another office party; I've already slept with everyone here," have never been said at this newspaper, at least not in that order.) But, whatever! Billie, we see in a flashback, left the paper's dashing "gajillionaire" owner atop the Eiffel Tower (pause again for moment of cognitive dissonance), when he surprised her not with a hoped-for wedding ring but a piece of marzipan in the shape of a camera, "because you're a film critic -- the best one at my newspaper." Billie is a film critic partly because Mary F. Pols, who wrote the memoir on which the show is loosely based, has been a film critic herself, though for the purposes of the series -- which will find her pregnant after a random night with the very much younger Zack (Jon Foster) -- it signals that she is both arty and responsible, grown but not grown old. (Though, apart from a Meg Ryan joke and a reference to "Gone With the Wind," there is nothing of the film critic about her -- where is the obsessiveness, the pallor?)