Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pilot Review: Mom

Mom (CBS)
Premiered September 23 at 9:30pm

Last week was the premiere of FOX’s “Dads,” and one had to hope that CBS’ similarly-titled sitcom would at least be a little better. That’s true, of course, but mainly because the first show was just that bad. Pairing two genuinely funny comediennes should have been a recipe for success, but this is just another run-of-the-mill laugh-track-driven CBS comedy. The show actually makes its first mistake in its opening moments, showcasing a hysterical Christy, portrayed by Anna Faris, having a meltdown as she goes from table to table crying while waiting on the unsuspecting guests at a restaurant. That over-the-top introduction conveys the lack of complexity this show offers, opting for visual gags that detract considerably from its actually being funny. Faris rolls her eyes constantly in an effort to acknowledge the ridiculousness of things going on around her and applaud her own attempts to be a good person, but it comes off as miserably forced. Allison Janney is a no-brainer to play an eternally manipulative and self-involved mother slash grandmother, but her role is broadly written to the point that it’s impossible to take her seriously. At least they’re somewhat stronger than token rebellious daughter Violet, who is a walking teen cliché. Supporting players like French Stewart are excessively flamboyant, while others, like Nate Corrdry, are wasted in uninteresting roles. Matt Jones, who played Badger on “Breaking Bad,” is an exception in the admittedly brainless part of Christy’s ex-husband Baxter. There could have been a lot of creativity here, but this show just isn’t trying very hard, and it’s too bad considering the potential of the premise and talent involved.

How will it work as a series? Two mother-daughter dynamics have already been established, and now Janney’s Bonnie will likely be involved in a big way with her daughter and granddaughter, which should make for plenty of well-intentioned mishaps. I’m not sure what will become of the various supporting players, but the main stars should have more than enough material to keep them busy for a while.
How long will it last? The show was already picked up for a full season way back in May, which is pretty impressive considering it didn’t start until months later, and given that this is just what CBS tends to do best, I think that the network will for once be happy with a premature pickup and give this show a vote of confidence, returning it to the airwaves for many predictable, repetitive years to come.

Pilot grade: C

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