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Married to the Kellys aired from October 2003 until July 2004 on ABC.
Easygoing New York writer Tom ( Breckin Meyer) and his perky wife Susan ( Kiele Sanchez) were very much in love, but they couldn't agree on where to live. So he promised her that once he sold his first novel they would move wherever she wanted. He did and their next stop was Kansas City , Kansas so she could be near her loony family. Single child Tom was a fish out of water in a big family , and in the heartland as well, but he tried his best to cope. Sandy ( Nancy Lenehan) was Susan's control-freak mother, who ran the Kelly household; Bill ( Sam Anderson), her hefty, earthy dad; Mary ( Emily Rutherford), her up-tight sis; and Lewis ( Derek Waters), her goofball baby brother, who was attending college but still living at home and collecting bugs ( another sibling, Lisa was away at college). Chris ( Josh Braaten) was Mary's big lug of a husband, and Uncle Dave ( Richard Riehle) an eccentric relative who asked blunt questions about Jews. Most challenging were hyperactive Mary, who was working on her master's degree and always trying to prove herself more intellectual than Tom; and Chris who worried that he was no longer the " favorite son-in-law."
A Review from The New York Times
TV WEEKEND; Trying to Adjust to a Kansas City State of Mind
By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN
Published: October 3, 2003
Why ''Married to the Kellys,'' which has its debut tonight on ABC, should be anything but another doomed sitcom is not immediately clear.
It's the story of Tom (Breckin Meyer), a short, Jewish New Yorker, and Susan (Kiele Sanchez), his blond Midwestern wife, who move from New York to Kansas City to be closer to her family. Won't it just be fish out of water? Jokes about how you can't get lattes out here, or knishes, or street crimes? What could be funny in that?
Almost everything, as it happens, since the writers and the actors have created robust characters. Each stands in goofy awe before two American totems: New York and the Midwest. To Tom, the Midwest demands more piety, cheerfulness and physical strength than he has in reserve. To Susan's sister, Mary (Emily Rutherfurd), the specter of New York is a standard of intellectual achievement before which she has to prove herself, even at a distance. Susan herself may be the most in conflict: she endeavors to fold Tom into the cozy but inhibiting sensibility of the Midwest, all the while remembering why she fled in the first place.
As this terrific new show makes clear, effective television comedy can come only from complex, three-dimensional comic characters so well wrought that they could even be tragic, but for a show's lighting and time slot.
MARRIED TO THE KELLYS
ABC, tonight at 8:30, Eastern and Pacific times; 7:30, Central time
Directed by Mark Cendrowski; Tom Hertz, writer and executive producer; Produced by Brad Grey Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television.
WITH: Breckin Meyer (Tom), Kiele Sanchez (Susan), Nancy Lenehan (Sandy), Emily Rutherfurd (Mary), Josh Braaten (Chris), Derek Waters (Lewis), Sam Anderson (Bill) and Richard Riehle (Uncle Dave).
An article on the new TGIF from the Michigan Daily
Friday falls short
New line-up lacks family values
By Jaya Soni, Daily Arts Writer on 10/31/03
Though ABC no longer boasts the familiar faces of D.J., Stephanie and Michelle of the ever-popular “Full House,” a new generation of “family entertainment” has returned to Friday’s prime-time.
The two-hour line-up kicks off with “George Lopez,” a sitcom that confronts issues of cultural values, assimilation and intergenerational perspectives. Similar to the older programming of TGIF sitcoms, “George Lopez” includes a cast of younger characters who deal with teenage issues of dating and popularity.
Following “George Lopez,” the new TGIF line-up departs from the common notion of family entertainment. “Married to the Kellys,” “Hope and Faith” and “Life with Bonnie” all center around adult themes of marriage, work and responsibility. The TGIF of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s had shows that thrived on young stars and childhood issues such as dealing with pesky neighbor Steve Urkel in “Family Matters” or living with five other brothers and sisters in “Step By Step.”
The TGIF today lacks strong child and teen stars. Breckin Meyer (“Road Trip”) of “Married to the Kellys” is the closest young viewers will get to identifying with characters. “Married to the Kellys” is based upon the lives of two recently married couples in their late twenties. Breckin Meyer’s character, Tom, tries to adjust to living near his new in-laws and humor arises when he can’t live up to their standards. The symbolic comedy of Tom’s paper dog being placed in his mother-in-law’s poster “dog house” is an issue that viewers under 18 could care less about.
“Hope and Faith” follows with the adult theme of sisters at odds, despite the juvenile acting skills of Kelly Ripa (“Live! With Regis and Kelly”). The show is reminiscent of TGIF alum “Perfect Strangers” as Hope (Faith Ford, “Murphy Brown”) and Faith (Ripa) are opposites similar to Balki and Larry. Like Balki, Faith’s personality is exaggerated and child-like making Ripa’s performance seem over-rehearsed and fake.
TGIF ends with the second season of “Life with Bonnie.” Bonnie Malloy (Bonnie Hunt, “Jerry Maguire”) is the host of “Morning Chicago,” and she finds managing a career and family to be a chaotic task.
The more mature themes in TGIF allow for “risky” content that wasn’t in the original Friday night line-up. In “Hope and Faith,” Ripa’s character is a washed-up soap star willing to do anything to pay off a $5,000 debt. Ripa plays with the notion of earning the money through prostitution, pulling her “For Sale” Emmy from a bag, while viewers are left to interpret the sexualized physical comedy.
“George Lopez,” while the most family oriented show of the line-up, still allows for sexual references as well. Lopez’s mother Benny (Belita Moreno, “Perfect Strangers”), confesses proudly to her granddaughter about early sexual promiscuity.
Whether it is TGIF that has changed its appeal since the 1990s, or the audience that has changed its tastes, viewers are left with confusing and contradictory themes. Today, characters of TGIF attempt to tackle more controversial and mature aspects of life. Even the new slogan “Is it Friday yet?” has an adult twist, leaving nostalgic viewers longing for the cheesy family scenarios of classic “Thank goodness it’s Friday.”
For more on Married to the Kellys go to http://www.wchstv.com/abc/marriedtothekellys/
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