Tag Archives: Malibu Country

Fall 2012 Review: Malibu Country

29 Nov

Oh boy, this show fits into my favorite category ever, traditional sitcoms with multi-camera set ups and laugh tracks.  It’s not so much that a show can’t be good with both of those features (though with a laugh track it’s increasingly difficult)  as much as that better shows tend not to make those choices (admittedly without thinking too hard I doubt any of the ten best half hour comedies since Seinfeld have laugh tracks or are multi camera).

Malibu Country, while not nearly as archaic as ABC Friday night partner Last Man Standing (admittedly, that’s a difficult feat to achieve), is still a solid fit with the show as another traditional sitcom trying to wear it’s modernity, getting all up with 2012, on its sleeve, while at the same time missing out on all the sitcom innovations that make even many generic shows in 2012 better than shows 20 or 30 years ago.

Malibu Country starts by trying to assert its “modern” direction when Reba (I don’t remember what her non-McEntire last name is, we’ll suffice to call her Reba) leaves her cheating country music star husband after calling him out at a press conference where she was supposed to stand by him.  Thus, now she’s on her own, a single parent with two southern kids and her wise and wisecracking mom (played by Lily Tomlin – man Lily Tomlin is old, to be playing Reba’s mom) and they’re all off to SoCal from Tennessee (Malibu because her husband apparently had a love shack there that she’s getting in the separation).

While you can take the family out of Tennessee, you can’t take the Tennessee out of the family it seems, and Reba feels like a fish out of water is the fast-moving plastic-surgery-filled world of Southern California.  Reba’s vapid neighbor, played by TV-shows-no-one- watches-veteran Sarah Rue (Popular, Less Than Perfect), represents everything that makes Reba uncomfortable, chilling with a glass of white wine while telling Reba not to freak out that she just walked in on her teenage daughter making out with Rue’s stepson.  This is new school, Hollywood-style parenting where Rue’s step-son even calls her by her first name!

Her mom, Tomlin’s character, of course, is allowed to be rude and lewd, a privilege accorded senior citizens, and Tomlin takes it further by purchasing some pot lollipops, which Reba reminds her, ain’t legal back in Tennessee.

Reba hopes to finally resume her country career which she put aside a couple decades ago to raise her family.  When trying to milk a contact using her husband’s connections, she’s told by Jai Rodriguez’s sassy gay assistant that unless she writes songs, she’s not making it in today’s music world, as she’s no longer young and sexy.  I’d like to note here that Jai Rodriguez’s character has an extremely irritating accent, irritating accents are always obvious bad show warning signs for me (see: half the characters on 2 Broke Girls).

The heartwarming moment occurs at the end of the episode, when Reba, about to despair, gets some wisdom from her mom.  Lily Tomlin’s husband cheated on her too, and Tomlin regrets that she never left him.  Reba works twice as hard on her music, comes to Jai Rodriguez’s office with a new demo, and refuses to leave until it’s listened to.  Boom, she has a record deal and a song on the radio by the end of just one episode, and it looks like life in sunny SoCal ain’t so bad after all.

This sitcom isn’t written for me, I know that, but it still rubs me the wrong way.  Besides being simplistic and retrograde, it just wasn’t funny.  I couldn’t believe how many lines there were which got large laugh track receptions and I couldn’t even understand what the genesis of the joke was.  At one point during the episode, Reba’s son, Cash, an idiot who coasts by on his looks and knows it, says “Finally you’re back” to his mom when she returns.  In response, she says, “Good to see you too,” and THE LAUGH TRACK GOES WILD.  Seriously, if we can’t get rid of it, can we set minimum standards for laugh lines?

It’s time to move on from this, comedy-wise.  A bunch of Southerners moving to California who don’t understand their newfound California lifestyle just doesn’t cut it anymore as a premise.    You have to work a little harder to get laughs nowadays, and that’s a good thing.  Of course, I watched the whole episode, but it’s easy to tell within two minutes that this is a show that I won’t like and that no one I know will like.  It’s so uninspired; I have a hard time thinking a writer pens this material and reads it back to himself and thinks it’s funny.

Also, while Reba, her son, and her mom all have southern accents, the daughter does not.  Odd.

Will I watch it again?  Nope.  Besides, if I want to watch episodes of a single parent family bringing their kids from Tennessee to California, I can always watch old Hannah Montana episodes.

Fall 2012 Previews and Predictions: ABC

13 Sep

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

ABC next.  The network sits pretty and in the middle of the pack, and has five new shows on offer this fall.

666 Park Avenue – 9/30 

An evil apartment building.  Yes, that is what the show seems to be about.  Already, the season grows less exciting.  Lost veteran Terry O’Quinn (John Locke) portrays the evil owner of the building, married to Vanessa Williams.  The series premise is set when a couple, not  presumably knowing the evil nature of this building, moves in and takes over roles as co-managers of the building.  The building is filled with a bunch of supernatural shit, and it’s goal is probably to be something like Lost meets Revenge (high class trashy soapy fun of Revenge with the supernatural aspects of Lost).

Verdict:  13- Revenge against some odds worked both critically and commercially, but I’m taking the under on lightning striking twice.  I have no idea what to expect in terms of the quality of this program, but but I don’t have a lot of faith; while hardly a crazy obvious cancellation (where are you, Allen Gregory?) some shows have got to go.

Last Resort – 9/27

The Shield’s Shawn Ryan (yes, I know I need to go back and watch The Shield – it and Dr. Who are my top 2 long term big TV projects that hopefully will happen one day) brings us this kind of cool set up about a US Navy submarine which gets an order to set off a nuclear bomb, and defies it, setting up at an island until they can figure out how to get back home without being considered traitors.  I’m calling this Crimson Tide meets Lost (yes, nearly every new ABC hour long program can be described as something meets Lost).  It starts the estimable Andre Braugher of Homicide and Men of a Certain Age and Scott Speedman of many Underworld films as the top two in command of the sub.

Verdict:  14+  I almost put renewal.  I really wanted to, but  these high concept shows have so much going against them that lower their chances of success.  Without quickly picking up both a huge amount of critical buzz (which is enough to initially give concepts juice on premium cable, but not so much on networks) and a minimum of commercial interest, grand high concept serial series (which I think this is?) have a difficult go of it (Lonestar, anybody).  I’m only picking 14+ over 13- now because of the Shawn Ryan name.  I hope it will be good though.

The Neighbors – 9/26

Classic that-guy (and Zeljko Ivanek Hall of Fame member) Lenny Venito and ‘80s semi-brat pack actress Jami Gertz are a couple who move into a New Jersey housing complex, and find out their neighbors are aliens who name themselves after American sports legends and have weird Conehead-like alien tendencies.  I’m honestly not sure what to think; it sounds ridiculous and cartoonish, but there’s a number of different tones the show could be going for here; out and out silly, corny, absurdist, cheeky and over the top.   It’s easy to lean towards this show being bad, but it’s hard to say for sure.

Verdict:  14+  I have no fucking clue.  This could be a classic 13-, it’s honestly one of the more obviously 13- sounding shows on this list.  However, I’ve briefly come across articles that the show is better than I expected it to be, and there’s this off and unlikely chance it could be a weird quirky success.  I’d still bet against it, but compromising here.

Nashville – 10/10

One of the shows I’m most excited about, it sounds like Country Strong the show (actually that’s not the comparison I should be making right after saying I’m excited about the show) on the surface, about a middle aged female country superstar (played by the great Tammy Taylor FNL actress Connie Britton) and an up and comer who wants the spotlight on her, played by Heroes’ Hayden Panettiere.  Plus, there’s I don’t know, a bunch of country music?  I don’t know what the natural arc of this show is, and maybe that’s a bad thing, but also maybe that’s why it’s interesting.

Verdict:  Renewal – This and Last Resort were probably the two shows that sounded most promising to me from the basic descriptions.  Last Resort, well, I’m a sucker for at least being interested in all shows like that, but few are better than mediocre, and most fail.  Nashville, however doesn’t fit that pattern.  I don’t care all that much about country music, so it’s not that angle, and I’m not sure what my good reason for interest aside the fact that it stars Connie Britton and it sounds, well, different.  I think we’ll know within a few episodes whether this show is sticking around.

Malibu Country – 11/2

Reba is back, baby.  You knew TV couldn’t be without her for too long.  Reba, a Nashville resident, naturally, and playing a character named Reba, finds her husband cheating and moves from Nashville to, you guessed it, Malibu, California.  Her mom is played by Lily Tomlin, which tells you how old Lily Tomlin is.  Oh, shocker, Reba plays a one-time country music singer, who is now trying to reignite her career.

Verdict:  13- This looks like the type of predictable utterly forgettable sitcom Then again, Reba ran for six seasons (wow, is the right answer), so who am I to say it can’t happen again.  I’ll say it though.  It’s probably not going to happen again.  This would be high up for me on the most likely 13 or less choices this year, though the relative success of Last Man Standing proves that I know nothing.