Meadowlands, Showtime's new Britain-based show, starts with a strange and promising premise: a suburb composed entirely of families in the witness-protection program. Not secure with that bit of originality, though, it then adds so many bizarro details that it starts to feel quite unoriginal in its weirdness.
Meadowlands is an English suburb, but it has the creepily duplicate, perfect houses of every suburban drama since American Beauty. Into the tiny town arrive the Brogans (formerly the Foys), who have been relocated after patriarch Danny (State of Play's David Morrissey) got mixed up with some bad types who burned down his house, scarring the hands of his beautiful, artistically gifted autistic son, Mark (Harry Treadaway). Mark now refuses to speak and skulks about in pretty, colorful gloves. Enough? No, the eight-episode series gets quirkier. Mark enjoys spying on his dowdy neighbor Brenda (Bread's Melanie Hill), who ritualistically undresses for him; the local constable has acid flashbacks; the town doctor obsesses over Danny's wife (Lucy Cohu). Indefensibly, the most interesting character among all these ''interesting'' characters is quickly killed off, leaving only a vague oddness to sustain the drama. It's frustrating, because the cast is quite good, particularly Cohu as the loving, embittered Evelyn Brogan. Fine acting is not enough, however, to forestall considerable groaning when the citizens of Meadowlands burst inexplicably into a zombie-like group dance to ''And the Beat Goes On.''