Amy Ryan
January 04, 2007 AT 10:13 PM EST

What I liked about last night’s pilot of The Knights of Prosperity: Shlubby Donal Logue (pictured). The portrait of New York City as a democratic, multicultural melting pot where Ralph Kramdenesque strivers from around the world bump and jostle the rich and famous. The warehouse full of giant menorahs, dreidels, and other Judaica. Logue’s motivational, American-Dream speeches, which (like The Godfather and The Sopranos) take our ideology of self-improvement to its logically larcenous extreme. The Tarantino/Soderbergh band-of-thieves group-stroll-shot parodies. Mick Jagger’s put-upon, silently irritated houseboy. The clever use of ’70s kitsch — Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” the Loni Anderson poster, and let’s face it, Jagger himself.

What I didn’t like: The title. The derivativeness — so far, Knights looks a twist on My Name Is Earl, complete with blue-collar rubes, breaking and entering, and a Latina sexpot as unrequited lust object. The conflicting sympathies — at least Earl is a bad guy trying to be good, while the Knights are good guys trying to be bad. Are we supposed to find them more lovable and excusable because they’re also inept and dimwitted, and because Jagger has agreed to play himself as an insufferably pompous twit?

Finally, this is one of many new shows this year (including Day Break, Kidnapped, Vanished, and Runaway) that seem like they’d make better movies than TV series with open-ended plots. I wonder how the writers are going to keep this premise going week after week (and, if they’re lucky, season after season). But I’m hooked enough to tune in next week to find out. How about you, PopWatchers?

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