Tag Archives: Trophy Wife

Fall 2013 Review: Trophy Wife

30 Sep

Trophy Wife and Husband

Trophy Wife is yet another child of ABC’s make-everything-like-Modern-Family approach to comedies (which from their perspective makes a lot of sense). The show, like Modern Family, is about an unorthodox wacky and occasionally out-of-control but ultimately functional family with a lot of moving parts.  Malin Akerman’s character Kate is the titular trophy wife. She starts the show with narration, which is almost always a poor choice in comedies, but an absolute staple of the Modern Family school of shows (Modern Family has it at the end, Suburgatory and The Middle have it throughout). She tells the story in very brief about how she went from single girl out on the town to wife and step-mom. It all started with a chance encounter at a karaoke bar with an older man, a suit-wearing lawyer, Pete, played by Bradley Whitford. Kate accidentally fell and broke Pete’s nose, which led to whirlwind romance followed by marriage.  There’s a catch though, to this dream pairing. Pete’s got major baggage in the form of two very different ex-wives, along with three children.

The first wife is the absolutely terrifying, stern and humorless doctor Diane played by Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden.  The second is the trippy, new age-y Jackie, played by Michaela Watkins, who has appeared in New Girl, as well as on Saturday Night Live.  Two of the kids are Diane’s –  a teen girl just entering the stage where she really cares about being cool and Warren, a dorky son who clearly doesn’t care at all about being cool. The third child is Jackie’s and is a precocious maybe 9 year old (I’m awful at estimating kids’ ages, so cut me some slack) adopted from China.  Kate’s best friend Meg is also part of the main cast, and helps Kate out with the kids.

Everyone is well-meaning, generally, as people are on Modern Family-esque shows and that’s not a bad thing., The main source of familial conflict laid out in the first episode seems to be that the ex-wives resent the younger Kate who they think is a party girl hardly responsible enough to be with their children.  The oldest child, Hillary, a rebellious teenager, also doesn’t respect Kate’s attempt to play mom.  The pilot features a series of wacky hijinks like Pete and Jackie running around trying to find an identical hamster to replace Bert’s so they can avoid telling him his hamster died.  It also features a quick twenty minute character arc in which Kate desperately craves the respect of Pete’s-kids and ex-wives, almost disastrously loses what little respect they had for her, and then manages to gain a small piece of that respect in in the end.  The episode ends, as again Modern Familly-esque shows often do, with the whole wacky family in the same room, solving all their episode-long problems together.

The words that spring to mind to best describe Trophy Wife are cute, harmless, and inoffensive.   These are classic backhanded compliment words and they are here as well, and very much in both the backhanded and the compliment sense.  It’s a well-produced program with talented actors, a warm tone, and a couple of laughs, but there’s not enough for me to make it weekly appointment viewing.  In my estimation from just one episode, it’s a little bit south of what I call the Suburgatory line, which represents the perfect show to throw on the TV in the background when I’m lying down late at night, because I don’t care if I fall asleep before the episode ends, and I don’t ever plan on watching all the episodes in order.

Not to beat a dead analogy, but Trophy Wife fits in well with this entire block of ABC comedies, all of which sit somewhere around this middle line of being not bad but not great and yet go no further (note: not The Middle line, another of these ABC comedies).  Like most of the shows on ABC, Trophy Wife is watchable, well-intentioned, and heart-warming, but in the competitive television landscape with so many quality shows competing for my viewing time, that’s just not enough.

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.  It was fine.  The first episode had a couple of laughs and I like the actors and actresses so I wouldn’t object if it was on in a room I was in.   There’s an outside chance it’ll get much better, as comedies do often take a while to find their feet, and I’m perfectly willing to give it another try if I hear and read good things. Until then, it’s just not quite funny or promising enough to secure a guaranteed second viewing.

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Fall 2013 Previews and Predictions: ABC

16 Sep

ABC

(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 is the last of the four major networks to get predictions and previews here (CW does not count).  They’ve also got the most new fall shows with 8 and I feel less confident about predictions their shows than any network I’ve done so far.  Still, I’ll have a got at it.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – 9/24

Agents of Shield

Probably the most anticipated show of the fall season, Agents represents Marvel’s first foray into live television since the beginning of the new Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting with Iron Man. Agents also represents Joss Whedon’s first return to television since Dollhouse. Though he won’t be working on this show day-to-day like he has on his other shows (Avengers 2 requires a lot of work), he co-created the show with his brother Jed Whedon and his brother’s wife, Maurissa Tancharoen, and Joss directs the first episode, which all three co-wrote.  Agent Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg returns to lead a group of eccentric characters who try to solve weekly supernatural action mysteries.

Prediction: Renewal – my most confident renewal pick, along with The Blacklist, though since it’s network television, anything can happen – still it’s a pretty good bet, I think the Marvel name, shepherded by the Whedon writing and sensibility will carry the day.

The Goldbergs – 9/24

All Goldbergs

Television loves making trips to the past. In this case, The Goldbergs is the story of a family in the wacky and wild 1980s, complete with the fashions and music and everything else that comes to mind immediately when you think of the ’80s.  There’s the gruff and angry dad, played by Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Jeff Garlin, with his wife played by Bridesmaids and Rules of Engagement’s Wendi McLendon-Covey.  They have three kids, including a hot daughter, a goofy teenage son, and a younger son who videotapes all their exploits. They’re all joined by Grandpa, played by George Segal. It does not look promising, and the posters of the family dressed in matching striped shirts doesn’t help anything.

Prediction: 12- It’s getting a surprising amount of promotion; using my anecdotal ads-on-subway test, it’s among the most promoted shows in the ABC line up.  Still, I think it’s not going to work, and I think, looking at that poster, you probably think that too.

The Trophy Wife – 9/24

The Wife Trophy

Malin Akerman, a reformed party girl, marries older Bradley Whitford, who already had multiple kids with two separate ex-wives who both don’t care for her.  How will she navigate the difficulties of step-kids, ex-wifes, and a husband who might still be under the thumb of either?  ABC will hope she handles it hilariously and like Akerman and Whitford, but this looks fairly generic.  If The Goldbergs seems to be getting the most promotion, ,this seems to be getting the least. Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden plays one of the ex-wives..

Prediction: 12- A few shows always go out early.  It’s a talented cast but when in doubt, bet against shows which the networks don’t seem to be promoting very heavily.

Lucky 7 – 9/24

Lucky 8 - Unlucky 1

A group of seven workers at a Queens gas station win the lottery, and their lives change, and not just for the better, or we’d have a pretty uninteresting television show.  It’s based off a similar British show, as most TV shows are nowadays. While the trailer was largely unmemorable, it’s actually a new idea, at least in America, which in and of itself is always impressive coming from a network. The cast features largely lesser known actors and actresses and I’m not sure how true to life or overdramatic it will be from the trailer, but it has a chance at being good, which is more than I can say about many network shows after watching the trailers.

Predictions: 13+ – It’s a legitimately interesting idea that could be good or bad depending on well writing, directing, and acting, and so forth.  I’ll take the middle position in lieu of any additional information.

Back in the Game – 9/25

Maggie Lawson's back is in the game

Psych’s Maggie Lawson dumps her terrible husband and returns to her hometown with her son, and moves in with her crotchety father played by James Caan.  When no one else steps up, she, a former softball player, decides to coach her son’s little league team which consists of a bunch of outcast kids. Caan and her are a two part Walter Matthau from Bad News Bears, as she does the baseball coaching and he does the grumpy old man act. Television “that guy” Ben Koldyke plays what I believe is the antagonist rival baseball coach; he was Don in How I Met Your Mother and one of the leads in Work It – I hope for your sake, you’re not familiar with the latter.

Predictions: 13+ It seems fairly generic and inoffensive which maybe will coast it along to half a season, but no more. I like Maggie Lawson in Psych, for what that’s worth.

Betrayal – 9/29

What is this poster about?

A beautiful married photographer begins an affair with a married lawyer, which leads to particular amounts of trouble when they turn out to be on opposite sides of a murder case.  I’m not sure about the tone for this show either, whether it’s over-dramatically sopay like Revenge, or maybe more series and emotional. I have no idea what to make of this show, but the leads are Hannah Ware, whose most famous role was as Kelsey Grammar’s daughter on the little-seen but fantastically over-the-top Boss, and Stuart Townsend who was in Queen of the Damned and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. James Cromwell also appears.

Prediction: 12- I have no idea what to make of this show.  I’m guessing, fairly arbitrarily, the public won’t either.

Super Fun Night – 10/2

Less Fun Day After

Rebel Wilson stars.  There’s a premise to the show, but that’s more or less all you need to know.  If you like her, there’s a good chance you’ll like the show, and if you don’t, well, you’ll probably hate it.  She stars as a young attorney who stays home with her friends every Friday night until she gets a promotion and a hot lawyer invites her out, and she invites her friends to come along and share the super fun times with her.  I’ve largely been in the anti-Rebel camp.  I’ll give the show a shot, because, well, I give all shows a shot, but I’m not hopeful from the trailer.

Prediction; 13+ – Rebel Wilson felt like she has had a TV show coming for some time. She definitely has a lot of fans but we’ll know in a few weeks exactly how many and how much they care.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland – 10/10

Once Upon a Time: Miami

Although I frequently do my best to forget about the existence of Once Upon a Time, the fairy tale drama has become a decent sized hit, with its share of critical fans as well.  The true sign of success on network television is the development of a spin off, and Once Upon a Time is getting that as it enters its third season.  Wonderland actually looks a bit darker than the original, and, despite my better instincts based on my dislike of Once Upon a Time, I’m actually kind of intrigued.  There’ll be plenty of crossover though it seems like, and it’ll be fairly tied in with the original, which means I’ll be cynical until convinced otherwise.

Prediction: Renewal – It’s a smart move and it’s set up well to succeed.  I’m not sure it will work, and spin-off fatigue happens all the time, but I this is a smart attempt by ABC even if it doesn’t work.