Review: ‘The Five Mrs. Buchanans’

CBS looks to have a hot property with Eileen Heckart as the definitive mother-in-law of the Buchanan family.

CBS looks to have a hot property with Eileen Heckart as the definitive mother-in-law of the Buchanan family.

Storyline by creators/scripters Jamie Wooten and Marc Cherry involves her three daughters-in-law and a prospective fourth, and how they cope with her.

Establishing seg in Mercy, Ind., introduces shop owner Alex (Judith Ivey), sexy Texan Delilah(Beth Broderick), snooty Vivian (Harriet Sansom Harris) and fiancee Bree (Charlotte Ross), a former Disneyland employee, and it’s routine bitchiness. Stereotyped jokes abound; the women’s only common ground is that they loathe Mother Buchanan.

The laughs start late when a glass stem snaps and Heckart’s Mother Buchanan enters. Once Mrs. B. shows up to meet Bree, the lights figuratively go up, the characters turn real, and the sitcom’s on. Director David Trainer brings out amusing characteristics in all the Buchanan ladies; they’ve got sudden substance.

Cowed by Mrs. Buchanan, the first three ladies try dirty digs as they accept their fate. But incoming Bree shows there’s gray matter behind the bride-to-be’s sparkling eyes; looks like Mother Buchanan has met her St. George. Heckart’s role as written is a gem, and the actress’s timing and line reading alone could make the program.

David Sackeroff’s production design happily reflects the spirit of the goings-on and adds another dimension.

The Five Mrs. Buchanans

(Sat. (24), 9-9:30 p.m., CBS)

Production

Taped at Fox TV Center, Hollywood, by Wooten & Cherry Prods. and Twentieth TV. Executive producers/writers/creators, Jamie Wooten, Marc Cherry; co-executive producers, Richard Vaczy, Tracy Gamble; supervising producer, Jan Siegelman; producer, Nancylee Myatt; director, David Trainer.

Crew

Camera, George Spiro Dibie; editor, Mike Cole; production designer, David Sackeroff; lighting director, Ken Wilcox; sound, Kerry Boggio; music, uncredited.

Cast

Cast: Judith Ivey, Eileen Heckart, Beth Broderick, Harriet Sansom Harris, Charlotte Ross, Paul Johansson, Diana Racine, Christopher Michael Moore.
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