Poster: Mr. Television
(see this users gallery)
Kath & Kim, aired from September 2008 until March 2009 on NBC.
The American adaptation of the Australian hit comedy series, "Kath & Kim" stars Molly Shannon (NBC's "Saturday Night Live") and Selma Blair ("Hellboy 2") as the hilarious and iconoclastic mother-daughter duo.
"Kath & Kim" takes place in Florida and focuses on Kath (Shannon), a cheerful, foxy, forty-something and her self-absorbed daughter, Kim (Blair), who have the love/hate, push/pull dysfunctional relationship that only a mother and daughter could share.
Kath has finally found love in the form of a sandwich shop owner named Phil Knight, played by John Michael Higgins ("Best in Show"). Kim is a self-absorbed princess newly separated from her husband of six weeks, Craig (Mikey Day, MTV's "Short Circuitz"). Kim decides to move back home, putting a damper on Kath's new romance.
Michael Nader ("King of Queens") is executive producer and writer of the series. Original series creators and stars Gina Riley and Jane Turner serve as executive producers of the new series along with Rick McKenna and Nader. The series is a production from Reveille for Universal Media Studios.
A Review from Variety
Kath & Kim
(Series -- NBC, Thurs. Oct. 9, 8:30 p.m.)
By BRIAN LOWRY
Filmed in Los Angeles by Reveille in association with Universal Media Studios. Executive producers, Michelle Nader, Gina Riley, Jane Turner, Rick McKenna, Howard Owens; co-executive producers, Will Calhoun, Liz Astrof, Jason Ensler, Todd Cohen; producer, Patrick Kienlen; director, Ensler; writer, Nader; based on the Australian series created by Riley, Turner.
Kim Day - Selma Blair
Kath Day - Molly Shannon
Phil Knight - John Michael Higgins
Craig Baker - Mikey Day
Snide but not smart, "Kath & Kim" will likely leave American audiences scratching their heads, wondering what Australians saw in the concept -- or if something was seriously lost in translation. The producers have sought to give the project a Yank accent mostly by having their low-class protagonists reference National Enquirer-type gossip about U.S. stars, but the show irritates more than it amuses. Most fans of the better NBC sitcoms surrounding it that say "G'day" probably won't be able to say "G'bye" fast enough.
The premise is so slim as to explain why this Reveille transplant struggled to find its footing in what was said to be a rather tortured adaptation process. Kath (Molly Shannon) is a single mom, having entered into a new-relationship with sandwich-shop owner Phil (John Michael Higgins), who coos at her until you're meant to throw up. Their excitement about this new love is tempered, however, when her grown daughter Kim (Selma Blair) -- a self-proclaimed "trophy wife" -- returns home, following a tantrum over her husband Craig (Mikey Day) not spoiling her enough.
"We can't go to Appleby's every single night," Craig protests meekly. "We are not billionaires!"
From there, well, "Kath & Kim" pretty much just sits there. Shannon is a gifted sketch player with "Saturday Night Live" credentials but brings no dimension to her character in a way that might help carry a series. The show's fate thus rests almost entirely upon Blair, whose garishly dressed Kim is shallow, self-obsessed, stupid and petty. Yet aside from looking fine in those ultra-short skirts, the fitful fun of her self-obsessed woman-child is offset by the annoying quirk of listening to a grown woman speak and behave like she's a 6-year-old.
Whatever lingering debt the show owes to its original template has also resulted in some awkward elements, including occasional internal monologues by both title players that are as empty, banal and unfunny as when they're actually talking. Nor are matters much improved in the second episode, in which Kath and Phil's relationship progresses despite her jealous snit and concerns about growing older.
Given NBC Entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman's former ties to the company, the show feeds perceptions that the network stocked up on Reveille titles, which will only make the potential failures more conspicuous.
Granted, comedy characters needn't be likable to be funny (see "The Office"), but at least being tolerable company helps. Notably, "Kath & Kim" will air in Australia a few days after premiering in the U.S., and the response there should be interesting. Because from a domestic vantage point, NBC's bid to bag thunder from down under is initially, to borrow an Outback expression, a pretty pissweak brew.
Camera, Greg Harrington; production designer, Dawn Snyder; music, Adam Cohen; casting, Brett Greenstein, Collin Daniels. 30 MIN.
A Review from The New York Times
Imports Suffering Identity Problems
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: October 8, 2008
These are times when it's hard to view flashbacks to the final days of the Nixon era oil crisis, unemployment, wage and price controls, stagflation and not wonder if that's our post-bailout comeuppance.
So there is nothing escapist about Life on Mars, which begins on Thursday on ABC, an unusual cop show that is partly set in 1973 and exhumes a raunchier, dirtier, more dangerous New York City, the one depicted in Serpico, Mean Streets and, most recently, American Gangster. And it's the show's back-to-the-future feel, underscored by Harvey Keitel as a tyrannical police lieutenant and Michael Imperioli as a shaggy-haired, smart-mouthed detective, that lifts it above the ordinary and adds Scorsesian pizazz.
Pizazz is what's missing from CBS's new drama, Eleventh Hour, in which Rufus Sewell plays Dr. Jacob Hood, a biophysicist and special adviser to the F.B.I. who is so brilliant that he was considered for a Nobel Prize. Hood is dispatched to solve complex, scientifically baffling cases (human cloning is one) at the 11th hour hence the title.
Eccentric and unpredictable, Hood is watched over by an F.B.I. agent, Special Agent Rachel Young (Marley Shelton), who serves as his muscle and minder. The show is a little like Fringe, on Fox, with the benefit of being based on science, not pseudoscience. But unlike the leads of Fringe, Hood and Young have no chemistry, and neither do Hood and viewers.
Eleventh Hour, a Jerry Bruckheimer production in the same vein as the CSI shows, Cold Case and Criminal Minds, is adapted from a British series. So is Life on Mars, while Kath & Kim, which also begins on Thursday on NBC, is a copy of a popular Australian sitcom.
There's nothing new about television outsourcing. In the 1970s, for example, All in the Family and Sanford and Son were based on British forebears. But the imbalance of trade keeps growing; many of the most notable shows of the season are adaptations of foreign series. It may even be the natural evolution, or devolution, of the communications business. The first phase in the rise of Japan's postwar economy was based on imitation (transistor radios, television sets), and it looks as if the first phase in the decline of American hegemony in popular culture is marked by imitation.
Not all copycat shows are equally well made, however. What these three series suggest is that the closer an original fits into indigenous American settings and sensibilities, the better. Life on Mars easily makes the transition from Manchester, England, to New York City gritty cop shows with big cars, big guns, chase scenes, kicked-down doors and blaring sirens are an all-American genre, after all.
The original Eleventh Hour starred Patrick Stewart as Hood, and his replacement, Mr. Sewell, is an English actor who adopts an American accent. But the show's conceit a highly cultivated, eccentric sleuth solving brainy crimes is as British as Sherlock Holmes and Adam Dalgliesh. American variations on the genre are too often paler and less distinctive than the originals.
Kath & Kim suffers from the same identity problem. It stars two very funny actresses Molly Shannon, as Kath, a single mother, and Selma Blair as her sullen, spoiled daughter, Kim and theirs is a trailer-trash version of Absolutely Fabulous, celebrating the bond between idiotic women obsessed with romance, shopping and food courts.
The Australian version is broader, bolder and more callous, gleefully unabashed about sending up lower-class accents and suburban vulgarity; the NBC adaptation tiptoes a little too squeamishly through snobbery and bad taste. Kath & Kim should be funnier, and could yet be, but the pilot disappoints.
The premiere episode of Life on Mars, by contrast, is strange and exhilarating. Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara, an Irish-born actor) is a modern-day New York City detective whose partner, Maya (Lisa Bonet), vanishes. After an accident, Sam finds himself transported to the same precinct 25 years earlier, back to the days when police work was done by typewriter, rotary phone and fists a time when cops could be cavalier about search warrants, interrogation rules and a suspect's right to a lawyer.
Sam is welcomed, barely, as a transfer from another precinct. Angry and frightened by his new surroundings, Sam at first thinks it's some kind of joke. When he tells a fellow officer he needs his cellphone, the officer replies, You want to sell what?
Sam is ridiculed by his new colleagues as a head case; his new boss, Lt. Gene Hunt (Mr. Keitel), explains the system by punching him in the stomach.
Aesthetically, Life on Mars is to the 1970s what Mad Men is to the early 60s a drama festooned with vintage artifacts like eight-track tapes, sideburns, wide-collar shirts and episodes of Kojak, and saturated with music by the Rolling Stones, the Who and David Bowie.
Sam doesn't know, and viewers are not told, whether he is in a coma and hallucinating the time travel, or the victim of something even more paranormal, but the settings shift between past and present. Trapped in the past, Sam is desperate to return to 2008 and rescue Maya.
While working in 1973, he finds clues to a serial-killer case that could be linked to the one he was pursuing in 2008. His one ally in the squad room is Annie Norris (Gretchen Mol), a smart, aspiring detective who is relegated to errands and paperwork in the Police Women's Bureau. (The New York City police department fully integrated women into the force in 1973 and allowed them on patrols; the cult show Police Woman, starring Angie Dickinson, had its premiere in 1974.)
Annie and Sam have a spark, but the real chemistry is between Sam and Lieutenant Hunt and the other detectives who come to detect some method behind Sam's madness.
A Review from USA TODAY
NBC's imported 'Kath & Kim' is just dumb & dull
Updated 10/10/2008 8:09 AM
ABOUT THE SHOW
Kath & Kim
* (out of four)
NBC, tonight, 8:30 ET/PT
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
Here's a shocking new idea for NBC: How about actually trying something new?
Instead, programmers have scheduled the network like they're college kids furnishing an apartment out of mom's hand-me-downs and tourist schlock from an over-the-border discount store. The result so far this season is a rare double play: the worst new drama in the camp revival Knight Rider, coupled now with the worst sitcom in the Australian remake Kath & Kim.
Witlessly Americanized by Michelle Nader (King of Queens), Kath manages to waste the talents of Molly Shannon while exposing the limits of Selma Blair's comedy range. In this smug celebration of what the writers perceive to be suburban stupidity, Shannon and Blair play a mother and daughter whose main goals in life are to marry well and live like the celebrities they read about in the tabloids. Now and then a tiny idea will pop into one of their heads, but it's instantly displaced by thoughts of clothes, food, sex and shopping.
As the mother, Kath (Shannon) has an additional aim in these opening episodes: to get her monumentally unpleasant daughter (Blair) out of the house so mom can marry the sandwich man she loves (John Michael Higgins). Mom's last name is "Day," her fiance's is "Knight," and I don't have to tell you how many times the show tries to get a laugh out of that.
Shannon is a talented sketch artist and a promising actress. But forced to carry weightless material, she falls back on exaggerated SNL shtick, never committing to the character enough to let us suspend our own disbelief. (Look at the work of Jaime Pressly and Ethan Suplee in similar dumb-trash roles in My Name Is Earl and you'll see the difference.) Even so, she fares better than Blair, who breaks up her glum stares and monotone delivery with random shrieks.
With Shannon and Higgins on hand, Kath can't help but stumble upon an occasional funny moment, most notably a dance routine in a gay bar. But that scene could have been lifted whole from SNL and if there's one thing Kath and NBC don't need, it's another retread idea.
That network already has more of those than it can use.
A Review from The San Francisco Chronicle
Kaith & Kim
October 06, 2008|By Tim Goodman
Oh, great, now we have to apologize to Australia.
With American television buying so many premade "formats" - a.k.a. importing shows from other countries and ruining them - the need for saying sorry has increased a hundredfold in just a few years. For every miraculous victory - say, "The Office" or, to a lesser extent, "Ugly Betty" - there are hordes of failures.
This time, it's NBC's Americanized version of "Kath & Kim," a fantastically funny Australian comedy that goes into the record books on these shores as a contender for worst remake ever.
NBC sent the first two episodes of "Kath & Kim," and both were jaw-dropping in their awfulness. In fact, by the end of the second episode, a stray thought occurred: Maybe an apology to Australia is unnecessary because the American version misses the mark so badly that it's barely recognizable as a distant cousin to the original. For example, one of the great things about the original "Kath & Kim," a mother-daughter comedy about cluelessness, tackiness, blind hope and failed expectations, is that it found humor in all of its well-drawn characters and situations.
In the American version, there's no humor at all. So there's your first big difference.
And there are no well-drawn characters, either. The American Kath (Molly Shannon) and Kim (Selma Blair) bear almost no resemblance in spirit to their Australian counterparts.
There are, however, endless situations. Much like those grating "Saturday Night Live" skits that go on seemingly and painfully forever, the American "Kath & Kim" is unfunny for prolonged stretches.
Executive producer Michelle Nader makes you wonder if she ever watched the original. If she did, and this is what she came up with, then it's clear that she either didn't get it or knew immediately that it wouldn't work for American television. In that case, she - and NBC - should have left well enough alone. But they didn't. They made Kath and Kim better looking but less interesting and less funny - a trifecta of wrongs.
Shannon, as the mom, Kath, who tries to make the most out of nothing, and Blair, who's completely miscast as daughter Kim, are light-years removed from Jane Turner and Gina Riley, the Australian actresses who created and wrote the original series. Of course, actually creating and writing the series is part of the reason Turner and Riley nail their characters. They inhabit them. They work the angles on what makes Kath and Kim funny: Kath's joyous pursuit of youth and glamour, which she has none of, and Kim's spoiled, wickedly self-involved notions of fame, beauty and happiness. In comparison, Shannon and Blair have none of that creative foundation. They are merely trying to bring life to the embarrassment that Nader has rewritten for them.
The ruinous nature of "Kath & Kim" is evident on so many fronts. First, the imbalance between the lives Kath and Kim live in Australia and that which they desire is the essential conflict of their lives. Their failed suburban dreams and the co-dependent spiral of superficiality gave Turner and Riley an abundance of material.
Shannon is able to get down some of the tackiness, translated to American mall culture, but misses pretty much all the other Kathisms. Blair's Kim is merely stock poutiness and insincere anger. It all goes nowhere.
The only part that works is John Michael Higgins ("Best in Show") as Phil, the sandwich shop owner who loves Kath. Higgins is the only one who can nail the goofy heightened reality the show needs because he's done it before in Christopher Guest movies. That kind of humor takes a skill set that pretty much no one else on "Kath & Kim" has. NBC's other Thursday comedy, "My Name Is Earl," is far more adept at pursuing laughs of this nature, and Blair could have taken some cues from Jaime Pressly's Joy character to see how far one must go to get it done right.
Ultimately, the comparisons are pointless because few Americans have seen the original version of "Kath & Kim" anyway. What does matter is that NBC's interpretation is dreadful in its own right. It's a complete wince-inducing mess that makes you feel sorry for Shannon and annoyed at NBC and Nader.
Another new Thursday night comedy is also disappointing, but not nearly the bomb that NBC drops. In FX's "Testees," viewers get a good premise gone sophomorically sideways. Peter (Steve Markle) and Ron (Jeff Kassel) are friends and roommates who, cash-strapped and not exactly self-starters in the workaday world, decide to make money by being test subjects at a drug company called Testico. Kenny Hotz (creator of "Kenny vs. Spenny" and a former writer for "South Park") has essentially made a three-dimensional cartoon for FX that looks wonderful, has loads of potential but always seems to take the easy way out (flatulence jokes, penis jokes, etc.).
No doubt "Testees" will pair perfectly with "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," which should serve the channel well, but unless future episodes of "Testees" get a lot more funny and a lot less obvious, FX will have cornered the market on comedy series that will do anything to get a laugh.
"Sunny" is more manic in its attempt to keep the plates spinning, while "Testees" plays the slacker card. But you have to be hitting the bong awfully hard not to see some of the jokes in "Testees" unfolding. This looks like a combo platter for the college crowd - which is probably a good programming decision - but here's hoping the ambition of "Testees" matches its premise in future episodes.
A Review from The LA Times
Mama Kath's nest is invaded by a baby
The American remake of an Aussie comedy can't decide what it's satirizing. And by the way, it's miscast.
October 09, 2008|Mary McNamara, Times Television Critic
The international markets plunge, the presidential campaign sinks to mudslinging lows and "Kath & Kim premieres tonight at 8:30 on NBC. Is that the sound of the Seventh Seal cracking in an ancient desert somewhere?
One of a fistful of international remakes flung against this television season, "Kath & Kim" opens with the first of its titular characters working out in clothes that haven't been popular since Jane Fonda was bulimic. Seriously, purple spandex and a colored sweatband? What did Molly Shannon, who plays the self-help-afflicted consumatrix Kath, do to deserve this?
For a brief moment, a viewer is left to wonder if this perhaps is one of those period shows that have become so popular. But no, enter quickly Kim (Selma Blair), Kath's daughter, fleeing her new marriage because her husband wants her to "do things . . . like cook dinner."
And we're off, with a mother/daughter Odd Couple that is drained almost immediately of any comic value except for the black hole of anger and narcissism that is Blair's Kim. Spoiled rotten girls are funny. Spoiled vicious girls are not. Still, with her mall-crawl crop top, muffin-topped short shorts and immediate Britney Spears references -- "Is Britney Spears stupid? Is Melanie Griffinith [sic] stupid? Because they both left bad men" -- she's nothing if not modern.
So how idiotic is Kath? Forget that she's a mother so clueless she thinks her clearly bipolar daughter just needs a little attitude adjustment. She may be the only middle-aged woman in America who hasn't discovered yoga pants.
If this seems like a lot of space to devote to wardrobe, it's only because everything just gets worse from here, and, frankly, it pains me to write about it. For one thing, the original Australian "Kath & Kim was very funny, and it's always embarrassing when a U.S. version doesn't measure up. Though why anyone would think we could take on an Aussie comedy is beyond me. Can you imagine, say, "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" with Brad and George in the lead roles?
For reasons perhaps only Christopher Guest understands, it is very difficult for Americans to do the broad hyper-social satire that the Brits and Aussies specialize in. Perhaps it's because Americans are not comfortable with lead characters who are lovably absurd. We have a disturbing need for simple-mindedness to be recognized as wisdom, a la Forrest Gump.
This both dilutes and confuses things in a show like "Kath & Kim," which desperately tries to caricature both family dynamics and consumer culture but winds up just abusing its terrific cast. "Saturday Night Live" alum Shannon is an instantly likable comedic actress, and she really is doing the best she can. But with lines like "Well I've turned a corner and his name is Phil" and "What the bedazzle is she doing now?" -- well, honey, not even Meryl Streep would stand a chance.
Meanwhile, Blair, so great in the "Hellboy" franchise, is totally wrong here. She's too beautiful for one thing, with her smoldering eyes and throaty voice. Watching her shove herself into the tabloid-quoting, Applebee's-loving Kim is like imagining a young Lauren Bacall playing the lead role in "Clueless" -- the role fits her just about as well as those shorts.
The only actor who seems at ease is John Michael Higgins, who plays Kath's boyfriend, the hilarious and gung-ho mall sandwich shop manager.
The irritating-baby-bird-returns-to-the-nest-just-when-Mom-is-rediscoveri ng-her-Total-Womaness certainly has promise, and the moments of mid-fury consumer/celebrity connection between the two -- "Ooh those shoes are cute" -- are amusing.
But "Kath & Kim" needs to decide if it wants to satirize American parenting or popular culture. Because if the first two episodes are any indication, it certainly cannot do both.
To watch some clips from Kath & Kim go to http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=kath+%26+KIm++selma+blair
To listen to the theme song go to http://www.televisiontunes.com/Kath_and_Kim_-_US_Version.html
� Date: Sat August 11, 2018 � Filesize: 73.0kb � Dimensions: 500 x 400 �
Keywords: Kath & Kim