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The Help aired from March until April 2004 on The WB.
Sunny Palm Beach, Florida was the setting for this sitcom about spoiled socialites and the people who worked for them. Oblivious, self-absorbed, Arlene Ridgeway ( Brenda Strong) was the matriarch of the family. She spent most of her time fawning over her spoiled children, since her corporate raider husband was almost never home. Adam ( David Faustino), the eldest was a womanizing alcoholic; nasty Cassandra ( Megan Fox) was addicted to cosmetic surgery; spacy Veronica ( Kari Lynn Pratt) was a would- be pop star destined to be a one-hit wonder; and fat insecure Douglas ( Graham Murdoch) had raging hormones and a fixation on his trashy sexy nanny Anna ( Marika Dominczyk). Their other servents were Maggie ( Mindy Cohn), the cook and de facto head of the household staff; 22-year-old second-generation maid Maria ( Camille Guaty), who had grown up in the Ridgeway home and had taken over the job when her mother passed away; Dwayne ( Antonio Sabato Jr.), the arrogant and self-centered personal trainer; Ollie ( Al Santos), the chauffeur who moonlit providing stud service for Veronica; Molly ( Tori Spelling), the tightly wound dog walker; and elderly Doris( Esther Scott), the nanny for the Ridgeway children when they were younger, who know spent most of her time sleeping in the kitchen. There was one thing that bonded the staff together-their mutual disgust for the excesses and laziness of their employers.
A Review from The New York Times
TELEVISION REVIEW; Upstairs, Downstairs in the Crass Class War
By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN
Published: March 05, 2004
''The Help,'' a new WB series that starts tonight, comes off like a school play, clumsily blocked, loudly acted and nearly shouted down by obligatory laughter and applause. Because it stars television sweeties Mindy Cohn and Tori Spelling, now all grown up (Mindy is matronly, Tori is Tori), home audiences may be tempted to cheer along with the canned bellowing. But beware: don't encourage these people.
A garish comedy about the staff of a mansion belonging to the Ridgeways, a noxious rich family, ''The Help'' plays upstairs-downstairs, though it's set on one floor and mostly in one room, a bland and cramped kitchen. Part of what makes charm impossible here is the size of the cast. Ms. Cohn, who plays Maggie the cook, and Ms. Spelling, who plays Molly the dog walker, are joined by a throng of lesser lights playing two nannies, a trainer, a maid, a chauffeur, a personal secretary, a son, a daughter, a mother and a grandfather.
Molly is a bipolar lunatic, who erratically lurches between being an airhead and being bitter. Maggie is a lusty saboteur who spits in the Ridgeways' food. The other members of the staff are similarly witless.
The Ridgeways, meanwhile, are barbaric, imperiously preoccupied with the alleged preoccupations of the rich: plastic surgery, fitness, idleness, booze and fame. The show's one surprise is that it slams around political jokes, lashing out petulantly at Bill O'Reilly, Condoleezza Rice and the cowardly French. Otherwise the punch lines here are standard network fare, only a little grosser; in one scene the maid rejects an advance by the gigolo saying, ''I would rather kiss an open herpes sore.''
Yuck. Skip it.
WB, Fridays at 9:30, Eastern and Pacific times; 8:30, Central time.
Ron Leavitt and Marty Adelstein, executive producers. Original Productions and Warner Brothers Television Production Inc.
WITH: Brenda Strong (Arlene Ridgeway), David Faustino (Adam Ridgeway), Keri Lynn Pratt (Veronica Ridgeway), Megan Fox (Cassandra Ridgeway), Graham Murdoch (Douglas Ridgeway), Marika Dominczyk (Nanny Anna), Jack Axelrod (Grandpa Eddie), Camille Guaty (Maria the maid), Mindy Cohn (Maggie the cook), Al Santos (Ollie the chauffeur), Antonio Sabato Jr. (Dwayne the trainer), Tori Spelling (Molly the dog walker).
A Review from USA TODAY
Posted 3/4/2004 8:00 PM Updated 3/4/2004 11:20 PM
WB's 'The Help' is the worst
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
Can the hapless, hopeless The Help really be the best sitcom WB can find? Because if it is, perhaps the network should get out of the comedy business before viewers decide to put it out of business, period.
This is the kind of show that opens with a doggie-doo joke and still finds a way to go downhill. Granted, creative collapse on that grand a scale does take a certain amount of ingenuity, but is it really the kind of effort a broadcast network should be encouraging?
Premiering tonight for what one assumes is a limited spring-dump run, The Help comes from Ron Leavitt, who did Married ... With Children for Fox and, more indicative of his work here, the abysmal Unhappily Ever After for WB. This time we get a class-warfare comedy, sans class, about a rich family and their embittered servants.
Downstairs, you'll find the cook (The Facts of Life's Mindy Cohn), the maid (Camille Guaty), the trainer (Antonio Sabato Jr.), the chauffeur (Al Santos) and the nanny (Marika Dominczyk). Upstairs, you have the rich mom (Brenda Strong), two daughters (Keri Lynn Pratt and Megan Fox), a son (Graham Murdoch) and Grandpa Eddie (Jack Axelrod).
The pilot also boasts if that's the right term two celebrity guests. The dogwalker is played by a game Tori Spelling, who struggles to make it through her one running joke without collapsing. The eldest son is played by Married's David Faustino, who has not improved with age.
Among the rest of the cast, only Cohn and Strong seem to have any sense of comic timing and any right to demand material. The rest of the cast pretty much deserves what they're getting, from the oh-so-tired girl fight to the jokes about changing old men's diapers.
What we've done to deserve this show, however, I don't know. It's enough to make you wonder whether the best fix for television might not be a mass house-cleaning in the executive ranks.
Hey, it couldn't hurt and it just might help.
A Review from The Boston Globe
An abysmal farce, `Help' is not on its way
March 05, 2004|Globe Staff
The WB's claim that "The Help" is a "biting satire" is only half true. No, it's not a satire, but yes, it does indeed bite. And it will be biting the dust before long, unless it can find a new cast, new writers, new producers, a new set, and an entirely new premise.
The sitcom, which premieres tonight at 9:30, is an abysmal piece of farce about the warfare between the wealthy Ridgeway family of Beverly Hills and their sqaud of abused servants. Upstairs, the Ridgeways fritter their lives away toning their abs and sipping cocktails. They're a greedy, self-centered, and insulting clan of nitwits, particularly the body-obsessed mom (Brenda Strong). Downstairs, the help complain about them, make fun of them, and brush dandruff into the food. From Maggie the cook (Mindy Cohn, from "Facts of Life") to Nanny Anna, they're as insane as the Ridgeways, with an added twist of class bitterness
The only supposedly level-headed servant is the show's heroine, Maria the maid (Camille Guaty), who is trying to make enough money for beauty school. When Dwayne the trainer tries to steal a kiss from her, this smart young woman is ready with the comeback, "I would rather kiss an open herpes sore." You go, Maria.
The show, which is from "Married . . . With Children" creator Ron Leavitt, is unendingly unfunny, even if no one has explained that to the hyperactive laugh track. All of the jokes revolve around booty -- especially when it comes to the chauffeur, who's sleeping with one of the two Ridgeway daughters -- or doody. Yes, scatology is an ongoing gag on "The Help," particularly when Tori Spelling appears as Molly the dog walker. When Molly isn't with the dog, she has the great honor of taking grandpa Eddie outside to do his business. She gets the show's most emblematic line: "No plops for the poopster!"
To watch clips of The Help go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=the+help+tv+series+
For more on the Help go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Help_%28TV_series%29
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvqaGBnBKdk
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Keywords: The Help Cast