Sunday, October 26, 2008

What I'm Watching: Gary Unmarried

I'm covering this show on a weekly basis for a reviewing course I'm taking. I'll copy my thoughts onto this blog every week as well.

Gary Unmarried: Season 1, Episode 5 “Gary Breaks Up His Ex-Wife and Girlfriend” (C-)

It’s tragically apparent from its title that this episode is just as contrived in its setup as those before it. Gary is forced to deal with the oft-explored sitcom problem of his former wife and current girlfriend becoming fast friends, something which will inevitably lead to a discussion of embarrassing facts which could negatively impact Gary’s relationship with Vanessa. Gary’s insecurity and worries that Vanessa won’t like him anymore based solely on the ravings of his ex are the kind of loose, conventional thinking that keep this show from achieving greatness. The most suspicious aspect of this setup is the sudden highlighting of Vanessa’s relationship with the kids. Prior to this point, no mention was made of her frequently helping Gary out by giving the kids rides from their activities. She also has this sudden relationship with Tom, Gary’s son, where he’s constantly flirting with her and desirous of her attention. This episode does provide a spotlight for Gary’s daughter Louise beyond her overly mature remarks, and includes her commenting on how the temporary tattoo artist couldn’t figure out how to tattoo the recycling symbol. Louise now plays basketball, and for some inane reason, Gary is the new basketball coach. His competitive spirit is unsurprisingly rather childish, emphasizing winning over the more respectable notion of friendly competition. It’s all generally irrelevant, because the central focus of this episode is on Vanessa and Allison. Allison doesn’t actually reveal anything embarrassing about Gary’s past, but too much worrying leads Gary to come clean with Vanessa and confess all his questionable deeds preemptively. This is entirely obvious, circular plotting, and there’s not much keeping this show alive. CBS, however, seems to disagree. In a cleverly titled post (“Gary No Longer Married to Wednesday Time Slot?”), reports that CBS is planning a special airing of the "Gary Unmarried" pilot this coming Monday night at 9:30pm, right behind repeats of the monstrously successful Monday night lineup of "The Big Bang Theory," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Two and a Half Men." Matt Mitovich, who broke the news, doesn’t believe the change is permanent, since "Worst Week," which usually airs at 9:30pm on Mondays, is doing well. Mitovich also dismisses previously reported news that four additional episodes of "Gary Unmarried" have been ordered, but notes that the show is doing well retaining, and occasionally even building on, the audience for Wednesday night lead-in "The New Adventures of Old Christine.: That’s good news all-around for this so-so sitcom.

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