Kristin is cute as a button, but “Kristin” is a dud all around. NBC’s fish-out-of-water laffer showcases Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth’s perky charisma to a point, but it’s way over the top and exists amid incredibly stale one-liners, on-the-cheap production values and boring supporting players. It’s rather unfortunate that mainstream America will be introduced to a boffo talent via this dreck; thankfully, Chenoweth is already prepping another comedy for CBS (“Seven Roses”). She had to have known this one would go nowhere.
In “Kristin,” Chenoweth sings a little here and there, just enough to make sure people know she isn’t your average pretty face. The rest of the pilot has none of her charm or wit and a host of conventions (sex-crazed boss, double entendres) taken from umpteen other sitcoms.
Oklahoma-bred Chenoweth is Kristin Yancey, an Oklahoma-bred dancer-actress looking for her big break in the big city. Riffing on her size — she’s taut and tiny — helmer James Widdoes and writer John Markus place her in an audition among taller, more agile dancers. When she flubs her cues and doesn’t get the part, she goes off on the director, reminding him how badly she needs the job.
Cut to Ballantine Enterprises, where womanizing socialite Tommy Ballantine (Jon Tenney) has made the New York gossip columns yet again for sleeping with another one of his assistants. In order to appease the shareholders and spin his name into good standing with Manhattan’s elite, he decides to right his libido ship with his newest assistant, who happens to be — bingo! — Ms. Yancey.
Another TV odd couple is born: He’s a crude macho man, and she’s a Bible-Belter who won’t lie or cheat for her new boss. Somehow, some way, they’re gonna make it after all.
Having conquered the boards in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” Chenoweth is certainly a vibrant and gifted thesp whose teeny package hides an enormous vocal ability. But while she gives everything she can to be the bright light here — she tries really hard — her bouncy, bubbly execution is almost uncomfortable; nobody would really behave the way Ms. Yancey does, especially in corporate America.
Even with a narrative leap of faith, the show never takes off on its own. Markus’ dialogue is hardly inspired, and the situations in which he puts his characters exist only in TV land to be sure (do colleagues really call the police when they find out one of their own is smoking illegal Cuban cigars?).
Apart from Chenoweth, Tenney is completely derivative as her piggish boss, adding nothing to a crude role that could have been nasty fun. As for the supporting cast, Ana Ortiz (Kristin’s sassy Latina friend with a heart of gold) and Larry Romano (Tommy’s goombah right-hand man with a heart of gold) are caricatures without much to do.
Things don’t get better with the tech credits; the set design’s lack of style stands out — everything looks like a soundstage — and little effort is made to make viewers feel like they are visiting the Big Apple.