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Saturday, November 3, 2012

PILOT REVIEW: Malibu Country


Starring: Reba McEntire, Sara Rue, Justin Prentice, Juliette Angelo, Jai Rodriguez, and Lily Tomlin

Created by David A. Stewart and Dave Harris
Teleplay by Kevin Abbott, Written by David A. Stewart & Dave Harris, Directed by John Pasquin

Malibu Country is a new sitcom from country music superstar Reba McEntire. She had a successful self-titled WB sitcom in the early 2000s and there are some similarities this time around. Here, she plays Reba Gallagher, the wife of a famed country singer. When he is caught cheating on her, she decides to publicly dump him and move to a little place in Malibu that she didn't know her estranged husband owns. She moves with her two kids, Cash and June (Justin Prentice and Juliette Angelo) as well as her free spirited mother Lillie Mae (Lily Tomlin). Rounding out the main cast is Reba's overbearing new neighbor Kim (Sara Rue) and young record label assistant Geoffrey (Jai Rodriguez), who Reba enlists to help her restart a music career she quit 15 years ago.

THE GOOD: This is real TV comfort food. There's nothing shocking or hard about this show. The jokes are easy and it feels like a throwback show in many ways. The cast is strong for the most part. Reba McEntire is very likable as the main character even though it's a very similar character as her previous show. Lily Tomlin wasn't given much to work with in the pilot but you have to think she's a good addition to the cast. Both Sara Rue and Jai Rodriguez did a nice job with their parts as they were quirky but not too cartoonish. Many people lament the demise of "classic" style sitcoms but here's one that's not trying to be edgy or different in any way.

THE BAD: Being a standard sitcom isn't a bad thing considering how many single camera sitcoms get too self-aware for their own good. But the problem with shows like Malibu Country is that so many of the jokes feel tired and stale. It seems like every multicamera sitcom out there including Malibu's timeslot buddy Last Man Standing are in this broad, harmless style. Where are the real smart multicam sitcoms like Friends and Frasier these days? Malibu is fine but it's not going to revitalize the genre.

BOTTOM LINE: If ABC is serious about restarting a TGIF block, this is a good show to build around. It has broad appeal and accessibility and audiences like Reba. I can't see this becoming appointment viewing for me or one I'll watch online every week. But if I ever have a free Friday night, I can see myself turning it on. The nice thing about shows like this is you won't get lost but missing episodes here and there. I don't love it but I want it to work so comedies can have a presence on Friday nights.

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