Channel hop

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 June, 2010, 12:00am

It's the moment every father is supposed to dread: opening the front door to the guy who will be taking his daughter out on her first date. He'll no doubt be too old, smell like a cologne factory - and is that an earring? He'll need to wipe that smug look off his face before the door is slammed into it. But while young women have a hard time getting out to play, young men appear to have no such problems.

This week, Star World is offering not one but two new comedies, back-to-back, that address what goes down in the world of sexually confident older women. You could, if you wish - as in Accidentally on Purpose (Mondays at 9pm) - find yourself in a boy-daddy situation. Jenna Elfman (Dharma and Greg; EDtv) stars as a 37-year-old television critic who falls pregnant after a one-night stand with a twentysomething cook who lives in a van. Amazingly, the two become roommates (in her house, obviously) and raise the baby together, platonically. But does hilarity ensue?

If this sounds a little far-fetched, you may be surprised to learn that it happened in real life. There's even a book about it. Presumably, Mary F Pols' account of her sort-of-single motherhood was supposed to inspire others rather than hook a sit-com deal, but humour can be a life saver in challenging times. We wish we could say there were plenty of laughs along with the lessons in the series - but alas, all except Elfman's character are flat stereotypes: the cougar best friend, the strait-laced sister, the doe-eyed father of the child and his loafer friends; it's like watching a badly drawn cartoon in which each face has just one expression.

The women of Cougar Town (right; Star World, Mondays at 9.30pm) also have stiff faces - but, in this case, that's what happens when the plastic surgeon gets carried away. Moving past the Botox and collagen, though, Jules Cobb (Courteney Cox; Friends) and her bfs are pretty darn funny in this irreverent take on life after divorce as a 40-year-old woman with a teenage son and hunky younger suitors.

Surprisingly guy-friendly, the stories and gags are stupid-smart, a bit like Cobb's underachieving ex and his adoring sidekick, who happens to be married to Cobb's best friend. There's also the playboy neighbour and Cobb's real-estate business to add to the pile-up. The lack of filters and boundaries between characters is ridiculously cathartic - these people say anything and everything you've ever wished you could to people you love, or love to hate.

For a bit of hand-me-down fun, strictly come swapping at Twiggy's Frock Exchange (BBC Lifestyle; Tuesdays at 10.05pm). Britain's original waif of the swinging 60s has created a modern- day 'sartorial sanctuary' for women (100 in each episode), where they browse through each other's unwanted clothing and compete for giveaways from designers and celebs. It sounds like the perfect recipe for a massive cat fight but peaceful clothing-worship prevails under the rule of the 60-year-old former supermodel and her two co-hosts (no doubt the television cameras play their part, too). They even manage to impart fashion tips. If vintage and DIY are your thing, Twiggy is your woman.