First Aired: 10 May 1997
Valerie Bertinelli Melanie Moretti
Jane Leeves Joy Scroggs
Wendie Malick Victoria Chase
Betty White Elka Ostrovksy
First Aired: 16th June 2010
Plot: Recently divorced writer Mel is having her midlife crisis and jets off to Paris with her best friends fading soap opera star Victoria and eyebrow sculptor Joy. She’s a bit more down, since they bump into her ex Anders, on his way to a romantic getaway with his new young fiance. They are on a plane from LA to Paris when some kind of technical problem causes the plane to crash-land in nearby Cleveland Ohio. The trio is shaken and seek a post near-death experience drink. In a bar they discover after years or LA men looking past them to younger women, here in Cleveland, men date women their own age and they are being hit on. Overwhelmed by feeling young and attractive the ladies join local plumber Hank and his friends James and Bill and the 6 have a lovely evening, one which Mel doesn’t return from until the next morning. When she does, she’s in Hank’s tee-shirt and is talking about staying in Cleveland for a while longer. They rent a house which comes with a live-in caretaker Elka. Melanie gets a call from Hank, they arrange a date and Joy and Victoria decide to do some cyberstalking. They soon learn that Hank is married and rush off to confront him. They do, Hank comes clean and the bubble they were living in for a day or two is burst. Later though, Mel talks about wanting to reinvent herself and wonders, why can’t she do it in Cleveland?
Notes: “Insert program title here” is filmed before a live studio audience is not a phrase that fills me with confidence about a comedy show’s quality. But internet people, I am committed to this project, so I forbear. The characters are as expected broad, Victoria is a former TV star, all needy and vain, screaming look at me to the whole world. Joy is the basic opposite, all snark and cynicism and Melanie is the female lead in most rom-coms that you can think of. This gives you a quick in to these characters and gets you into the story that bit quicker, useful, given the short running time. The hook of this show having older leads is at least unusual enough to catch my interest. The LA/Hollywood fixation on youth and a certain type of glamour has warped how these women view themselves and when presented with romantic interest from age-appropriate men, it makes the fish out of water effect a positive thing.
But a good premise only gets you so far and then you are left with the performances. Wendie Malick feasts on the scenery as the daytime drama queen, as does the acerbic Jane Leeves. Valerie Bertinelli is… likeable as it goes and John Schneider is a bland bit of charm so this show really needed a bit more to keep any interest, so enter Betty White. Grumpy, judgemental and maybe stoned, Elka steals every scene she is in. Sitcom royalty, White could do this in her sleep and still owns the whole program. I really am glad that the MIGHTY Rosie mentioned this one when I was putting the list together.
Does it work? The premise of 40 somethings feeling past in LA, but hot elsewhere does give a good springboard for more stories to be told.
Does much need fixing? Not really, by the end of the episodes, the series is pretty well set up.
Does it stand up? Since most sitcoms feel outdating anyway, the few years since this came out hasn’t really done much to it and Betty White is a touch of class.
Did I want to watch the next one? I wasn’t against watching another but didn’t feel the need, to be honest.
Did I enjoy it? It was fun but highly forgettable.
Overall: 3.5 out of 5 Not great, but not bad either.