Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pilot Review: Jennifer Falls

Jennifer Falls (TV Land)
Premiered June 4 at 10:30pm

I haven’t kept us as well as I should have with TV Land as it transitioned over to airing original programming rather than just reruns of classic comedies. I caught the network’s first four entries back in 2010 and 2011 – “Hot in Cleveland,” “Happily Divorced,” “Retired at 35,” and “The Exes” – and found them all to be seriously not to my taste (or age demographic). I guess I missed “The Soul Man” and “Kirstie,” but now, in a slow week, I had the chance to watch the premiere of the network’s newest offering. Like its other shows, it features a handful of actors from recent series who should be moderately familiar to television audiences. Jaime Pressly and Ethan Suplee, who costarred in “My Name is Earl,” lead the cast, and Jessica Walter is in the supporting cast, along with a brief guest appearance from her “Arrested Development” husband Jeffrey Tambor. Pressly was always considered the standout of “My Name is Earl,” winning an Emmy for her role, and here she gets to be just as eccentric and energetic, albeit much less truly crazy. Suplee seems more intelligent than this characters tends to be, and will probably just play a big lug without much personality. Walter is playing a role she has played a dozen times before, and the part isn’t written too complexly. Mainly, this show’s premise is one that has been done many times, and even a few times this past season. Compared with USA’s “Playing House,” which wasn’t spectacular, this one is a paler imitation, a bit more edgy but not particularly funny. Missi Pyle’s Dina and Ethan, played by Tommy Dewey, who was Josh on “The Mindy Project,” might be able to inject some likeable dynamics into the series, if not some helpful humor, but otherwise, I don’t see too much promise here.

How will it work as a series? It didn’t take long for Jennifer to fix her relationship with Dina, and even her daughter seems to like her more than before. She’s been humbled, but obviously that won’t last, and so this should be a series of pratfalls and embarrassing moments until she becomes a fully endearing character.
How long will it last? Reviews for the show weren’t strong, and I haven’t been able to find much in the way of helpful information regarding the pilot’s ratings. I don’t see this one having the same appeal to classic sitcom audiences as the other shows the network has produced, so I won’t predict it for a second season at this point.

Pilot grade: C-

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