Some TV shows need months, even years, to find their voice.
"Ugly Betty" needs five seconds.
The opening shot of this enormously appealing new series is a tight close-up of star America Ferrera, her hair badly styled, her eyes framed by thick red glasses, a hint of a tacky plaid suit jacket. Her lip quivers nervously, and we cut to the words "UGLY BETTY" in big, Day-Glo block letters, then back to Betty as she smiles broadly and we see that some malicious orthodontist has welded the grillwork of an Escalade to her teeth.
In that quick juxtaposition of how awful Betty looks and how happy she feels, the show establishes both its key theme of substance over style and its arch, self-aware sense of humor. "Ugly Betty" may have some Important Stuff to say about the emptiness of beauty, but not at the expense of a good laugh.
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UPDATE: So, what say the rest of ya's?