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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Melissa and Joey delivers classic sitcom

    ABC Family has made it's first decent sitcom with Melissa & Joey, a new show starring Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) and Joey Lawrence (Blossom) in the title roles.  Premiering just two weeks ago, the show has earned a season pass from me after four episodes.  The show centers around slightly slutty, slight air-headed Melissa, who has recently inherited a nephew (Nick Robinson) and niece (Taylor Spreitler, Days of Our Lives), and is trying to balance raising them with her busy city worker job.  She also has a funny best friend slash assistant in Rhonda.  Rhonda is played by Elizabeth Ho, her performance mirroring so many other female Asian comedic relief characters of late, and while not standing out, she does it just as well as the others.

     In the pilot, Joey is desperate for a job, and forces his way into her home as a live in nanny / housekeeper.  Turns out that although he has no children, he makes a much better parent that Melissa.  It was a little cheesy and cliche, but it was nice.  He quickly becomes the moral center of the household.  What's more, he seems to be channeling Tony Danza from Who's The Boss?  As the show has gone on, you can easily forget how the situation came to be, and just enjoy the antics.  Which mostly consists of Melissa doing stupid things, and Joey getting her out of trouble.  The kids don't matter much to the story, at least so far.  This show in the brief title sequence, which just features Joey and Melissa.

     Like another cable summer sitcom, Hot in Cleveland, this one feels like it was written and filmed in a different era.  Namely, the golden sitcom era of the 1980's and early 1990's.  The humor is clean, almost bland.  Nothing dangerous or too bad ever happens.  The 'problems' the characters must overcome in each episode are pretty base, and never risky.  I guess that's the charm, though.  Recalling those sitcoms everyone watched when sitcoms ruled the airwaves.  And being prepped by HiC, which grew on me over time, left me open to watch this replacement after the former ended it's summer run.

     Melissa & Joey is far from great television.  A little more quirk and some depth to the characters would do wonders.  But it's just four episodes in, and it has the right ingredients to put on something decent, including two leads who have done it before.  I won't stop watching it anytime soon.

     Melissa & Joey airs Tuesday nights at 8pm, usually with a rerun at 8:30, on ABC Family.

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