Kath & Kim

Snide but not smart, "Kath & Kim" will likely leave American audiences scratching their heads, wondering what Australians saw in the concept -- or if something was seriously lost in translation.

Kim Day - Selma Blair Kath Day - Molly Shannon Phil Knight - John Michael Higgins Craig Baker - Mikey Day

Snide but not smart, “Kath & Kim” will likely leave American audiences scratching their heads, wondering what Australians saw in the concept — or if something was seriously lost in translation. The producers have sought to give the project a Yank accent mostly by having their low-class protagonists reference National Enquirer-type gossip about U.S. stars, but mostly the show irritates more than it amuses. Most fans of the better NBC sitcoms surrounding it who say “G’day” to the show probably won’t be able to say “G’bye” fast enough.

The premise is so slim as to explain why this Reveille transplant struggled to find its footing in what was said to be a rather tortured adaptation process. Kath (Molly Shannon) is a single mom, having entered into a new relationship with sandwich-shop owner Phil (John Michael Higgins), who coos at her until you’re meant to throw up. Their excitement about this new love is tempered, however, when her grown daughter Kim (Selma Blair) — a self-proclaimed “trophy wife” — returns home, following a tantrum she throws because her husband Craig (Mikey Day) is not spoiling her enough.

“We can’t go to Appleby’s every single night,” Craig protests meekly. “We are not billionaires!”

From there, well, “Kath & Kim” pretty much just sits there. Shannon is a gifted sketch player with “Saturday Night Live” credentials but brings no dimension to her character in a way that might help carry a series. The show’s fate thus rests almost entirely upon Blair, whose garishly dressed Kim is shallow, self-obsessed, stupid and petty. She looks fine in those ultra-short skirts, but the fitful fun of her self-obsessed woman-child is offset by the annoying quirk of listening to a grown woman speak and behave like she’s a 6-year-old.

Whatever lingering debt the show owes to its original template has also resulted in some awkward elements, including occasional internal monologues by both title players that are as empty, banal and unfunny as when they’re actually talking. Nor are matters much improved in the second episode, in which Kath and Phil’s relationship progresses despite her jealous snit and concerns about growing older.

Given NBC Entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman’s former ties to the company, the show feeds perceptions that the network stocked up on Reveille titles, which will only make the potential failures more conspicuous.

Granted, comedy characters needn’t be likable to be funny (see “The Office”), but being tolerable company helps. “Kath & Kim” will air in Australia a few days after premiering in the U.S., and the response there should be interesting. Because from a domestic vantage point, NBC’s bid to bag thunder from down under is initially, to borrow an Outback expression, a pretty pissweak brew.

Popular on Variety

Kath & Kim

NBC, Thurs. Oct. 9, 8:30 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles by Reveille in association with Universal Media Studios. Executive producers, Michelle Nader, Gina Riley, Jane Turner, Rick McKenna, Howard Owens; co-executive producers, Will Calhoun, Liz Astrof, Jason Ensler, Todd Cohen; producer, Patrick Kienlen; director, Ensler; writer, Nader; based on the Australian series created by Riley, Turner.

Crew: Camera, Greg Harrington; production designer, Dawn Snyder; music, Adam Cohen; casting, Brett Greenstein, Collin Daniels. 30 MIN.

Cast: Kim Day - Selma Blair Kath Day - Molly Shannon Phil Knight - John Michael Higgins Craig Baker - Mikey Day

More TV

  • Jussie Smollett

    Special Prosecutor Appointed to Investigate Why Jussie Smollett Charges Were Dropped

    A Chicago judge appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb to investigate why local officials dropped charges against Jussie Smollett, who was accused of paying two accomplices to stage a racist and homophobic hate crime against himself. Cook County Judge Michael Toomin concluded a two month search beginning in June for a special prosecutor, landing [...]

  • 'Lizzie McGuire' Reboot Series in the

    'Lizzie McGuire' Reboot Series in the Works at Disney Plus

    Get excited “Lizzie McGuire” fans because a reboot series of the much loved Disney Channel teen show has been picked up at Disney Plus. Lizzie McGuire herself Hilary Duff, who is set to reprise the role, announced the series at Disney Plus’s D23 Expo event. Terri Minsky, who created the original, is also aboard the [...]

  • Disney Fans Lineup to Subscribe to

    Fans Line Up to Subscribe to Disney Plus at D23

    Disney fans lined up to be among the first to subscribe to the company’s forthcoming streaming service. The D23 Expo convention hall, filled with giant Marvel exhibits and cos-players also featured a kiosk to sign up for Disney Plus. The incentive? An offer to save $23 per year on a three-year subscription to the service. [...]

  • Cine-y-Series

    Chilean TV Grapples With Globalization

    SANTIAGO, Chile – Globalization was the key word in a TV panel held during Sanfic where Mega TV’s International Content chief Juan Ignacio Vicente, CNTV development head Ignacio Villalabeitia and DirecTV programming director Rossy Hernandez debated the myriad challenges Chile’s television industry faces today. Like its counterparts worldwide, Chilean TV is dealing with the spectre [...]

  • Mickey Mouse waves to members of

    Spider-Man, Spicer and Splashy First-Looks: Everything We're Looking For at D23

    As if Disney hasn’t owned enough weekends this year at the box office, the biennial D23 Expo will light up Anaheim, Calif. over the next three days to celebrate the content monolith. From a new Netflix-competing streaming platform to scores of movie and series reveals — along with a few hot controversies to confront — [...]

  • PHINEAS AND FERB - "The Fast

    'Phineas and Ferb' Disney Plus Movie Details, Including Title, Revealed at D23

    Five years after summer ended for “Phineas and Ferb,” the show returns with a new movie on Disney Plus in 2020, new details of which were revealed on Friday at the D23 fan convention. In “Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe,” currently in production for the new streaming service, stepbrothers Phineas and [...]

  • Brews Brothers Netflix

    Netflix Orders Comedy Series 'Brews Brothers' from Schaffer Brothers

    Netflix has put in an eight-episode order of “Brews Brothers,” a comedy series from creative sibling team Greg Schaffer and Jeff Schaffer. The show follows estranged brothers Wilhelm and Adam Rodman, who wind up running a brewery together. According to Netflix, each is a “beer genius … but they couldn’t be more different in their [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content