Sure, Investigation Discovery basically makes the same show over and over again, but it’s hard not to admire the channel’s creativity in mildly differentiating them with cheeky titles and inspired talent. Enter “Momsters: When Moms Go Bad,” hosted by Roseanne Barr in a gig similar to the wraparounds on “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” So Barr gets a paycheck for what must have been an afternoon’s work for the entire series, and ID gets a promotable little confection to air through the holidays. In the trade, that’s generally known as a win-win.
Granted, as is so often true with these concepts, the creativity pretty much evaporates right after the title and casting, featuring shoddy re-enactments that condense what used to pass as the stuff of TV movies into a brisk half-hour. Indeed, the first of two back-to-back episodes feature the case that inspired “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom,” a 1993 HBO movie starring Holly Hunter.
Lest anyone has forgotten the details, that story involved a woman who plots the death of her teenage daughter’s rival, seeking to retain a hit man to eliminate the girl and her mother. A second installment focuses on a woman who embezzled company funds to finance her in vitro fertilization treatments, eager to have a third child with her second husband.
As for Barr, the one-time domestic goddess spends her fleeting appearances in a kitchen setting, tossing off scripted puns and one-liners about parenting and motherhood. Heck, she doesn’t even have to narrate the episodes.
Investigation Discovery doesn’t take such fare too seriously, and from that perspective, Barr (who joins a posse of VH1-retrospective-worthy ID hosts like Susan Lucci and Charisma Carpenter) fits right in. Even the Thanksgiving weekend premiere date — at first blush a death sentence — might not be that bad given the audience the show’s designed to reach.
“Desperate moms call for desperate measures,” the narrator says at one point. But really, “Momsters” is the furthest thing from desperate; rather, it’s the latest slick product to roll out of the widget factory, a mother’s little diversion adorned with just a touch of new packaging.