Wednesday, March 25, 2009

ABC Mid-Season Pilot Review: In the Motherhood - Premieres March 26; Short-Lived Dramas Comes to DIRECTV; Fox Note

In the Motherhood

In the Motherhood - Thursdays 8:00PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Thursday, March 26, 2009 at 8:00PM ET/PT

Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) and Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) come to ABC in the new comedy In the Motherhood, which takes a look at the importance of family and friends while trying to juggle motherhood, work and love lives in an overly complicated modern world.
The story focuses on Rosemary (Mullally), Jane (Hines) and Emily (Jessica St. Clair), who represent mothers we all know. Rosemary is a free-wheeling mom who plays it fast and loose when it comes to parenting her teenaged son, Syd. Married numerous times, but currently single, Rosemary lives by her own rules. Much to the amazement of the other moms, her nontraditional parenting style has yielded a son much more responsible than she. Rosemary's best friend, Jane, is a recently divorced working mother of a pre-teen, Annie, and a baby girl, Sophie, who is just trying to keep her career and home afloat. Having just returned to work after giving birth eight months ago, Jane struggles to find a happy balance - lucky for her she has her "manny," Horatio (Horatio Sanz, Saturday Night Live), to help out. Jane's younger sister, Emily, sees herself as the model stay-at-home-super-mom for her two young children, Esther and Bill. Emily's home is a work of art, and her kids are polite and sweet-everything has its place in her world. Married to Jason (RonReaco Lee), Emily takes parenting as seriously as any mother could.
As for the men in their lives, Horatio, Jane's "manny," communicates with Jane's infant daughter through sign language and believes the baby is the only person who really "gets" him. He's a good-hearted lug who is also much more than a babysitter to the three ladies. Then there's Jason, Emily's husband, who is the uptight breadwinner, ready at any given moment to open a vein for his family. He likes his food to be organic and his wife, home and children at the top of their class. Basically he's an ulcer waiting to happen.


Cast Details:

* Cheryl Hines as Jane
* Jessica St. Clair as Emily
* Horatio Sanz as Horatio
* RonReaco Lee as Jason
* Megan Mullally as Rosemary

Cheryl Hines (Jane) is a two-time Emmy nominee for her role as Cheryl David on HBO's Golden Globe Award-winning series, Curb Your Enthusiasm. She is also establishing herself as one of Hollywood's most sought after film actresses with starring roles in a number of critically acclaimed feature films and box office hits. This past summer she was the female lead in the animated comedy Space Chimps, with Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg, and she co-starred in the Sundance hit, Henry Poole Was Here, opposite Luke Wilson, Adriana Barraza and Radha Mitchell. Hines has a number of feature films scheduled for release in 2009, including the the romantic comedy Labor Pains, directed by Lara Shapiro and co-starring Lindsay Lohan, Chris Parnell, Luke Kirby and Connie Britton and The Ugly Truth, directed by Robert Luketic and co-starring opposite Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. She recently completed production on her feature film directorial debut with the indie, Serious Moonlight, with Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton, from a screenplay written by the late Adrienne Shelly.

Jessica St. Clair (Emily) got her start as a comedian and writer at New York's Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, where she performed in several critically acclaimed stage shows co-written with Jason Mantzoukas. Called "the next Nichols and May" by Daily Variety in their "Ten to Watch" list in 2003, their shows were a hit at HBO's Aspen Comedy Festival and were later developed into pilots for both HBO and Comedy Central. St. Clair is currently developing a pilot for HBO with fellow UCB alum Lennon Parham. St. Clair had a recurring role on the comedy Worst Week and can be seen later this spring in the new Showtime series The United States of Tara. She will also be featured in the upcoming feature film She's Out of My League. Other credits include Christopher Guest's For Your Consideration, guest starring roles on ABC's Samantha Who? and Notes from the Underbelly, and Comedy Central's The Showbiz Show with David Spade. She is also a regular panelist on VH1's Best Week Ever.

Horatio Sanz (Horatio the "Manny") was born in Santiago, Chile, and raised in Chicago, Illinois, he honed his craft in his hometown both as a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade and company member of Chicago's legendary Second City. When he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live at the beginning of the 24th season, Sanz became the long-running sketch comedy show's first Latino cast member. After only one season, he was promoted from featured player to full cast member. On the show, he made his mark with original characters ranging from pothead Gobi in "Jarret's Room" to A/V teacher Mr. Banglian on "Wake Up, Wakefield" and "Uncle Rick" to Amy Poehler's "Kaitlin." Popular celebrity impersonations ranged from Aaron Neville and Ozzy Osbourne to the Axis of Evil's Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il.

RonReaco Lee (Jason, Emily's husband) is best-known for his role as mechanic Tyreke "Ty" Scott on the popular television series, Sister, Sister. He has also had recurring roles followed on The Shield, ER, Girlfriends, Committed and All About the Andersons. Guest starring roles include Monk, Boston Public, Moesha and Home Improvement. He most recently had a recurring role on the comedy Worst Week.

Megan Mullally (Rosemary) is best known for her two-time Emmy and four-time SAG Award-winning role as Karen Walker on Will & Grace. Making her television series debut in 1986 with Elaine Stritch and Ellen Burstyn on The Ellen Burstyn Show, she has since appeared as Stanley Tucci's wife in Paul Mazursky's award-winning HBO bio-pic, Winchell, starred opposite Juliet Stevenson in Lifetime's The Pact, and recently guest starred on the 2008-09 season premiere of 30 Rock, episodes of The New Adventures of Old Christine and Boston Legal. She has also hosted her own syndicated daytime talk show, The Megan Mullally Show. On the big screen, Mullally appeared in Anywhere But Here, with Susan Sarandon, and starred in Marc Forster's Everything Put Together -- an entry in the 2000 Sundance Film Festival's main competition. She recently completed production on a remake of the 1980 film, Fame. Other feature film credits include Stealing Harvard, Speaking of Sex and Rebound.


Pilot Plot:

I received the first two episodes airing for review. So, I will base my thoughts on the show on these two.

#1 (Prod #101) "It Takes a Village Idiot" (Airs March 26)
Jane is finally back in the dating pool after a long, dry spell but afraid that she won't remember all of the romantic basics of courtship. Meanwhile, Rosemary discovers the special attention and perks that pregnant ladies are afforded and passes herself off as one -- with Horatio in on the ruse -- and Emily finds that honesty is not always the best policy when she decides to share the truth about certain childhood myths with her preschooler son.
Guest starring are Charlotte Foley as Annie, Sayeed Shahidi as Bill, Yara Shahidi as Esther, Tiffany Haddish as Teddy, Ken Marino as Shep, Tig Notaro as Rhoda, Rachel Harris as Blair, Annie Mumolo as person no. 1 in coffee place, Bob Rumnock as man from another table, June Diane Raphael as Liz, Keri Shahidi as Alexis, Meredith Roberts as Hadley, Sacheen Padilla as BJ, Jeff Snyder as person no. 2 in coffee line and Steve Little as guard one.
"It Takes a Village Idiot" was written by Jennifer Konner & Alexandra Rushfield and directed by Richard Shepard.

#2 (Prod #103) "Vacation" (Airs April 2)
Jane's vacation week alone with baby Sophie turns out to be anything but relaxing, Rosemary tries to unionize Horatio's fellow nannies to help them get the perks they deserve, and Emily and Jason's "stay-cation" at home gets a thumbs-down from their kids.
Guest starring are Charlotte Foley as Annie, Sayeed Shahidi as Bill, Yari Shahidi as Esther, Rachael Harris as Blair, Leslie Grossman as Maggie, Soledad St. Hilaire as Eugenia, Sarah Baker as Doris and Abby Miller as Abby.
"Vacation" was written by Paul Corrigan & Brad Walsh and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller.


Analysis:

Decent start for the show. It is clearly more mainstream than quirky & niche, so that should help this show. It certainly is not funnier than Better Off Ted in its lines, but the show is still funny in a more traditional way, even though this is single camera. ABC originally had the episode "Vacation" set-up to air first, but after Obama announced he was having a news conference on Tuesday, that forced Fox to move American Idol from Tues-Wed of this week to Wed-Thurs this week, now going head-to-head with In the Motherhood's premiere. So then ABC switched episodes. This series doesn't rely on previous storlylines from previous episodes, so it works and any episode can air first really. Both episodes I saw set up the characters well and you'll know who is who. The second one airing is clearly the better episode, I think. Maybe that is why ABC moved it to the second week, so it doesn't have to face Idol? Hopefully the premiere tomorrow gets a good sampling and does even better the following week because viewers need to give it more than just one episode.

As for the show itself, it isn't quite there yet for me...but it has great potential. It really fits Samantha Who's style, so they should work well with each other. As I said, the second episode airing is the better episode...so please stick around. Quick recap, we have three main stars. Jane is the main character. She has a sister named Emily. And a best friend named Rosemary. They are all mothers. Jane is divorced and has a preteen daughter and a baby. Emily is happily married (to a black man) and has two young children. And Rosemary has been divorced many times and has a teenaged son...who I have not seen yet in these episodes. To help Jane with the baby, she has a "manny" named Horatio. He seems to be friends (or a lover?) to Rosemary. That isn't really explained yet. All the characters are likeable and in the first two episodes they all have their own subplots but appear with each other as well. Rosemary has the craziest plots. In the first one airing, she fakes being pregnant to get free stuff. And in the second episode she brings all nannies together to go on strike. She certainly is the funniest, but she isn't being a "mother" per say here. Maybe in future episodes we will see that, as we haven't seen her teenaged son yet. Emily has the most traditional family, even though she has an interracial marriage. She certainly is the youngest of the three mothers, and the hottest, but she starts off very slow in her delivery...but gets better by episode two.

Jane and the "manny" have good chemistry, but perhaps not better than Rosemary and the "manny." There was a great Who's the Boss? joke with Jane and the "manny." It's been playing in clips on promos, so it has been seen. The supporting players are all good. The "manny," Emily's husband, the kids, and Jane's boss played by the great Rachel Harris. She is always hilarious in anything. She probably was the best thing about the sitcom Notes from the Underbelly.


Conclusion:

This series is based on the internet series of the same name (and that starred Leah Remini, Jenny McCarthy and Chelsea Handler). I've never watched those, but they have been higly touted. So I think this will work. I'm sure all mothers or parents can relate to this and will tune in. I'm neither and even I liked it. There is just something missing for me, but I do see great future potential here. It is said that real-life stories are put into this. So that is very good to hear and parents may want to watch. There is something here for all kinds of moms/parents: a divorced mom looking for love, interracial marriage, raising children, raising a teenager, raising a baby, and an entire family. I'm sure I'm missing something, too. In future episodes, you'll see Stacy Keibler on a TV show the moms watch. Cannot wait for that!

So if you're a parent/mom, check this show out. Don't just watch the premiere and that's it...give it a chance. I didn't think the first one airing was that good, but the second one is better and future plotlines sound even better. Fans need to be more patient with TV shows these days, especially sitcoms. So stick around for a few episodes, you might like it. As of now, only 6 of the 13 produced are airing...so give it a fair chance. If you've watched the internet series, then for sure tune in here to compare. So have you ever locked yourself outside the house with the baby inside? Or have gone on a vacation at home and called it a "staycation?" Then you'll want to tune in here! They're glamourous...but their moms!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

-- Reviewed by pavanbadal on 03/25/09

Discuss the show after you watch it on Thursday, March 26 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • In the Motherhood Photo Gallery


    DIRECTV champions quality television programming once again and inks a rare deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution to bring three critically acclaimed drama series back to television via DIRECTV's 101 Network Wednesday lineup.
    Smith, The Nine and Eyes will return to primetime with never-before-seen episodes, commercial-free and in HD, only on DIRECTV's 101 Network and DIRECTV on DEMAND.
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    Fox adds a second season of Kitchen Nightmares to its menu of unscripted series starring famed chef Gordon Ramsay. In Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay steps out of his own five-star establishments and into some of the country's most unsuccessful restaurants to help turn them around or close their doors forever. It aired until this January on Thursdays on Fox, and is expected to return sometime this summer for more episodes.

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