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‘Kung Fu’ just borrows the old show’s name to kick off a CW-style drama

‘Kung Fu’ just borrows the old show’s name to kick off a CW-style drama

The latest batch of TV reboots haven’t had much in common with the source beyond the name, and so it is with “Kung Fu,” which — like the recent “Walker” — CW-izes a familiar TV property in a mostly unrecognizable way. In this case, a modern-day female lead learns mad martial-arts skills, in an uninspired series whose action and key narrative device owe at least as much to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” as its half-century-old namesake.

Racing through the plot in the very, very busy pilot episode, the series stars Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen, a young Chinese-American woman who, on a solo trip to China, winds up dropping off the map and entering a Shaolin monastery, where she’s trained for more than three years.

After an attack on the monastery — and the theft of a priceless sword — Nicky returns home to San Francisco, just as her sister (Shannon Dang) is about to get married. Her arrival reopens old wounds about family dynamics, particularly involving her demanding mom (“Crazy Rich Asians'” Kheng Hua Tan), who clearly invested plenty of hopes and dreams in Nicky’s once-promising future.

Still, all is not well in Chinatown, with corrupt forces having endangered her parents’ restaurant business (Tzi Ma plays Nicky’s dad), threatening the local community. If only someone could stand up to them, perhaps by beating up groups of armed henchmen, and had an ex-boyfriend (Gavin Stenhouse) who happens to work in the D.A.’s office.

The timing certainly feels welcome for a series that focuses on an Asian-American family, one with a lot of conventional problems to go with the more fantastic ones — locating the villain who stole the aforementioned sword foremost among the latter.

Still, “Kung Fu” — developed by Christina M. Kim under Greg Berlanti, who oversees the CW’s superhero dramas — feels less like a reboot than a new series that simply borrows the well-known title and spins out a litany of dramatic cliches. (In between, there was a syndicated revival in the 1990s.)

Granted, that assessment is based on one episode, and it might be worth sticking around for a couple more to see whether the mythological aspects actually blossom into something more than the premiere suggests. If not, to paraphrase the original show, it’ll be time to leave.

“Kung Fu” kicks off a mini-wave of April broadcast-TV premieres, including a pair of new series this week on ABC. Of those, “Home Economics,” a sitcom starring and produced by Topher Grace, feels potentially more distinctive than “Rebel,” which stars Katey Sagal as a blue-collar crusader without a law degree inspired by Erin Brockovich, who is among its producers.

Informed by a “Modern Family” vibe, “Home Economics” — which also happens to be set in the Bay Area — focuses on three grown siblings, two of whom (played by Grace and Caitlin McGee) are strapped for cash, while their younger brother (Jimmy Tatro) is awash in tech bucks, living in a house he bought from Matt Damon (yes, that Matt Damon) with a dazzling view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

“It’s really … tasteful,” Grace’s Tom lies upon entering the place.

The underlying tension is that Tom, a novelist, is working on a book informed by — what else? — his crazy family. That adds a little bite to what’s otherwise a pretty breezy exercise, which doesn’t fully exploit the potentially interesting impact of class issues and disparate economic status on sibling rivalries, at least initially, as aggressively or imaginatively as it could.

All told, the concept and casting have promise. But while it features a modern family, at first blush, “Home Economics” is no “Modern Family.”

“Kung Fu” and “Home Economics” premiere April 7 at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. ET, respectively, on CW and ABC.

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‘The Talk’ returns with Sheryl Underwood remarks and an episode on race

“The Talk” returned Monday by jumping right into a conversation about race.

It was the first new episode since cohost Sharon Osbourne left the CBS daytime talk show in the wake of a heated discussion she had with fellow cohost Sheryl Underwood over Osbourne’s support of her friend, Piers Morgan.

Underwood questioned that support after Morgan’s negative comments following Prince Harry and Meghan’s interview with media mogul Oprah Winfrey were criticized as being rooted in racism.

Underwood opened Monday’s episode by explaining that it was the panel’s first time in studio since the incident with Osbourne and her exit from the show.

“We need to process the events of that day and what’s happened since so we can get to the healing,” Underwood said. “Over the next hour we will honestly discuss what occurred and explore some of our feelings. And we’ll also show you how anyone can become more comfortable with discussing important issues and having difficult conversations.”

The show ended up going on a brief hiatus after the debate and allegations surfaced via an article by journalist Yashar Ali that Osbourne used racist and homophobic language while speaking about her former colleagues on the CBS talk show.

Ali cited former “Talk” co-host Leah Remini, who spoke on the record in the piece, as well as a number of unnamed sources.

CNN has not independently verified the claims. A spokesperson for Remini confirmed the accuracy of her statements as reported by Ali and declined further comment when contacted by CNN.

Osbourne tweeted an apology for the blowup with Underwood and denied that allegations raised in Ali’s reporting in a statement from her spokesperson, Howard Bragman.

“The only thing worse than a disgruntled former employee is a disgruntled former talk show host,” he said in a statement to CNN. “For 11 years Sharon has been kind, collegial and friendly with her hosts as evidenced by throwing them parties, inviting them to her home in the UK and other gestures of kindness too many to name. Sharon is disappointed but unfazed and hardly surprised by the lies, the recasting of history and the bitterness coming out at this moment.”

Osbourne was the only remaining original cast member of “The Talk,” which debuted in 2010.

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