TV Review: ‘Kirstie’

Kirstie TV Land

TV Land's Mini-'Must-See TV' reunion comedy doesn't yield cheers

A more enlightening title than “Kirstie,” frankly, would be “Seen Better Days,” which at least would capture the depressing sensation associated with watching this mini-“Must-See TV” reunion featuring Kirstie Alley, “Cheers” co-star Rhea Perlman and “Seinfeld’s” Michael Richards. Sparing her much research for the role, Alley plays an aging, Tony-award-winning stage diva who, with one unexpected knock at the door, meets the aw-shucks 26-year-old son she gave up at birth. Basically, think “All About Eve,” if it were remade as a woefully broad TV Land sitcom, rife with jokes about promiscuity, ego and of course, weight.

Alley’s Maddie and her pompous co-star (played by guest Christopher McDonald) have just finished taking curtain calls in a play titled “Worst Case Scenario” (presumably the writers possess a sense of irony) when Arlo (Eric Petersen) shows up at the actress’s Manhattan high-rise, wanting to meet his biological mom. She is flanked, naturally, by an all-knowing smartass personal assistant, Thelma (Perlman); driver with a shady past, Frank (Richards); and inordinately good-looking chef (Gilles Marini), who all appear to have no lives in any way separate from servicing hers.

Arlo, a bit of an amiable dork (he harbors a fondness for Civil War reenactments), isn’t after money, just a relationship. Yet if he’s supposed to offer a window into his mom’s pampered and self-absorbed eccentricities, the character’s waif-like manchild shtick, as written and played, is mostly just plain irritating.

The same largely goes for Maddie’s conflicted attitude toward him, which (penned by Marco Pennette, and directed by Andy Cadiff) comes off like a tired series of putdowns and rim-shots.

Having built something of a second career around self-deprecation, Alley gamely sinks her teeth into all the requisite spoiled thespian jokes — like how many people she slept with to land that halo-encircled Tony award, her fear of letting a younger and thinner understudy substitute for her, or telling Arlo she’s reluctant to acknowledge him because “My friends think I’m 36.”

Frank, meanwhile, is just itching to bump the kid off to prevent any possible complications, while Thelma responds to Kirstie’s exclamation “It’s back!” with “The herpes?” And so it goes.

TV Land has been reasonably adept at conceptualizing and casting sitcoms intended to almost seamlessly dovetail with its library of reruns, and in that respect “Kirstie” certainly fits the bill. While that might be a formula to generate sampling, the prospect of a show this tired retaining a sizable portion of those viewers would clearly be a best-case scenario.

TV Review: 'Kirstie'

(Series; TV Land, Weds. Dec. 4, 10 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles by True Blue Prods. and Marco Pennette Prods.

Crew

Executive producers, Marco Pennette, Kirstie Alley, Jason Weinberg, Larry W. Jones, Keith Cox; producer, Melanie Patterson; director, Andy Cadiff; writer, Pennette; camera, Wayne Kennan; production designer, Michael Hynes; editor, Ron Volk; music, Ron Wasserman; casting, Collin Daniel, Brett Greenstein. 30 MIN.

Cast

Kirstie Alley, Eric Petersen, Michael Richards, Rhea Perlman, Gilles Marini

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  1. derek martin says:

    Wow. Kirstie was panned! I am actually surprised. I have never been an advocate for this actress, with her past roles always leaving me flat, but after seeing “Kirstie,” I was stunned that I was incessantly amused. The writing is top notch, and the quality rivals the top network sitcoms. I LOVED the show. Frank and arlo especially, but rhea and Kirstie are also strong. I must surprisingly (pleasantly so) disagree with this reviewer. I give this program top ratings and I’m hold high standards for sitcoms. I do so just generally on the fact that it entertained me. I was stunned. Didn’t expect much. But got way more.

  2. Debbi Williams says:

    I rarely watch any mainstream TV, however, made it a point to watch “Kirstie”, as, I started taking a shine to Kirstie’s real life personality……..sort of just “tell it like it is”. I like my friends that way, as well. Although many critics complain it is a redundant story line, I love the show and the chemistry amongst the characters. Cloris Leachman, in the last episode, add even more laughs. The timing of all the actors is impeccable. We all need a good laugh now and then, with so many negative agendas occurring in this country. I, for one, will continue to tune in on Wednesdays at 10 pm, regardless of what the critics might say.

  3. Diane says:

    I didn’t even watch why? One word Scientology

  4. lb6364 says:

    This show is a train wreck. Bad lines delivered by potentially great actors. The writing is boring, the characters are empty. Jokes about using drugs, drinking and sex are insanely stupid and useless. The only remotely good thing about the show is the guy who plays the son, with a decent script and good writers, he would be pretty great. I even change the channel when the commercial comes on, it hurts my teeth to watch it.

  5. Bebe says:

    These actors were good on the older shows they were on. This show is a disgrace to Tvland and I sat there in awe that people could actually write this stuff and think it’s good? I was very surprised when I saw that people thought this show was funny. It’s dull, overused and annoying to watch. I turn to a different station when it’s on.

  6. Janet Thompson says:

    The fact that Michael Richard is in this sitcom is enough to turn the TV off. No one wants to watch his slapstick tom foolery. Not to mention, everyone knows he can’t control his bad temper. THE SHOW IS A YAWNER!!!

  7. Brian Moffitt says:

    I love Kirstie’s new show. It made me laugh out loud and put tears in my eyes. Unlike many new TV series with their 20 supervising producers, this show is a real show. Now that’s entertainment

  8. Thomas DeFilippo says:

    The premise of the show comes off entirely bland, unoriginal, and recycled. For the first-ever Kirstie Alley sitcom, you would expect a more original premise. You can totally tell Michael Richards wants to break into his Kramer-styled character but instead, takes on a tamer character that underutilizes Richard’s fumbling brand of humor that is so desperately needed. It’s a shame all he can be reduced to is a side character, especially on account of his own show being a major flop back in 2000. This was not the proper show to make his comeback on. It is a sad excuse for a sitcom, but then again all of the so-called TV Land sitcoms are nowadays.

  9. seaglow999 says:

    This might have been “edgy” and provocative, even funny 15 years ago. Now it falls with an audible “thud.” I mean, the plots been used before – so many times I can’t count. The actors are pretty good other than Kirstie Alley who’s only as good as her writers. In this case, the writers seem to be in “regurgitate” mode. I chucked at a couple of things, but only a couple. Most of the jokes seemed deflated and some actually seemed angry. I think your review here is nearly spot on. It’s too bad the cast and all of Ms Alley’s “friends from her church can’t find some real paying gigs.

  10. Sammy says:

    Oh Mr. Brian Lowry, if you are so offended by the “off color” jokes or the references to drugs, drink or weight don’t watch it again. It’s on later for a reason. It’s adult humor and should be taken as such. Look how long it took for folks to come around and like Seinfeld. The first few episodes were bagged and trashed endlessly by critics, but then went on to be what it is, a HUGE hit! I am by no means comparing this show to that one. I am simply saying that these things take   time. I thought the show was funny and it allowed me to do what these shows are meant to do, veg out and entertain me for 30 minutes. I was able to put myself in thier world for a while and get out of my own. I’ll for sure watch it again next week. Kirstie and Michael Richards were really funny! Reha was also funny albeit predictable. The character Reha is playing, Thelma, is kind of a stamp of the character she played on Cheers. Sarcastic, ballsy and blunt. It works for the show but it is predictable. All in all I enjoyed the show and think TV Land did a smart thing by putting it on the air. Is it I Love Lucy? No. But this is 2013. To all you old fogies who were put off by the adult themed humor, open your mind a little maybe. Don’t watch it if you don’t like it. I thought it was nice to see a new sit com on the airwaves. Some new blood. I wish this show success and luck :-)

    • Dan999 says:

      “Oh Mr. Brian Lowry, if you are so offended by the “off color” jokes or the references to drugs, drink or weight don’t watch it again.”

      “Don’t watch it if you don’t like it”

      Wow. Comments like these really make me fear for the human race. He’s paid to review the show, so he reviewed it. Who says he plans on watching it again, moron?

      These white knights who defend any drivel are hilarious.

  11. Shannon says:

    I didn’t mind the show at all and actually laughed a few times. I do agree that the newfound “son” is a bit nieve, needy and oblivious, but I hope that improves as the show progresses. I’ve always been a fan of Kirstie and Michael Richards. I think Richards character is do funny that it almost overshadows Kirstie’s character. I think the jokes at her expense are quite amusing. I think that it’s cool that she laughs at herself. The smarmy Thelma is cute but obvious and expected so that could wear after a while. For me, the weakest point is the dull plot line of the son and his personality (yawn) but luckily it takes second stage to the funny ensemble of the 3 main characters. I am giving it a chance for sure. It was witty enough to keep me interested. I will TiVo each week. If it begins to suck and tank then I won’t watch a second season. But I am rooting for it and hope it does well.

  12. Butterfly says:

    Actually, I expected it to be bad and was VERY surprised. I thought it was good and I will watch again.

  13. Shanna Oliva says:

    We were horribly disappointed by the acting, lines, and concept
    Will not watch again
    Such good actors wasted

  14. Carl says:

    Your review was right on the mark. This show needs to be axed immediately to save TV Land he money that would be wasted.

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