[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
Show:"Malibu Country" (ABC)
The Pitch:"It's important that ABC maintain its comedic position half in 2012 and half in 1992."
Quick Response: You know that the concept of cohesive network branding is dead when you look at ABC's comedy slate. On one hand, the network has some of the savviest, most current sitcoms on broadcast TV ("Modern Family," "Happy Endings," "The B---- in Apartment 23" and "Suburgatory" fit here). On the other hand, the network has a strange assortment of comedies that could have been produced a two or three decades ago, with the punchlines intact ("Last Man Standing," "The Neighbors" and the defunct "Work It" fit here). [Somewhere in the middle, fittingly, is "The Middle."] Anyway, that's how ABC ends up a lack of comedic flexibility, because some of the network's sitcoms simply CAN'T be paired with others. On the other hand, sometimes a pairing is just too perfect. "Suburgatory," for example, belonged with "Modern Family," even if it took ABC a year to realize it. And "Malibu Country" was almost literally developed, produced and ordered to go with "Last Man Standing." Tim Allen's family comedy feels consistently old-fashioned and when it comes to certain social niceties, it's sometimes well past outdated and and into retrograde. But the audience/laff-track roars enthusiastically and for some viewers, I have no doubt that's comforting. "Malibu Country" will function in the exact same way and I'm at a loss for what to say about it, because the target audience probably isn't reading me anyway and certainly wouldn't be swayed by any negativity. And, just as Tim Allen and Nancy Travis are old pros who know how to milk any plausible laughs from the thread-worn "Last Man" scripts, you know that whatever Reba McEntire and Lily Tomlin are given, they'll get the most out of it, however faint that praise may be. In the case of the "Malibu Country" pilot, unfortunately, there's virtually no mirth at all. Every fish-out-of-water punchline is stale and some of the stuff involving Reba's family's gay neighbor is somewhere between "kinda" and "completely" offensive. And guess what? The audience likely to watch "Last Man Standing" and "Malibu Country" will no doubt be tickled by the jokes about homosexuality and crazy Los Angeles hippies and medicinal marijuana. Nobody else will be amused, but ABC doesn't care, because the cooler-than-thou audiences have plenty to chuckle at earlier in the week. As for the rest of the "Malibu Country" cast, Sara Rue is proudly showing off the results of her ongoing dieting, but when it comes to her pilot season choice between this and "Guys with Kids," it's pretty much a push. And Jai Rodriguez, as the sassy assistant to Reba's new agent, is irksome and seems destined to be around for the long-haul.
Desire To Watch Again: None. And yet, oddly, I watched nearly a full season of "Last Man Standing," hoping it might get better. With this one, anything more than a second episode for courtesy is unlikely.
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries