Back to the drawling board with ABC's Malibu Country
11/01/12 08:25 AM
Reba McEntire & Lily Tomlin drawl 'n' squabble in Malibu Country. ABC photo
Premiering: Friday, Nov. 2nd at 7:30 p.m. (central) on ABC
Starring: Reba McEntire, Lily Tomlin, Sara Rue, Justin Prentice, Juliette Angelo, Jai Rodriguez
Produced by: Kevin Abbott, Michael Hanel, Mindy Schultheis, Narvel Blackstock, Dave Stewart, Pamela Oas Williams, Reba McEntire
By ED BARK
Outlandish and thoroughly TV Land-ish, Malibu Country belongs on the network of Hot In Cleveland, Happily Divorced and other broad, blast-from-the-past sitcoms.
Instead it's on ABC, paired with Tim Allen's Last Man Standing in an effort to at least partially rebuild the network's old laff track-spiked TGIF comedy franchise.
Reba McEntire, who long has felt entitled to be called just "Reba," plays a jilted former country singer named Reba after starring in the now defunct WB network's Reba from 2001-'07. Her co-star is the great Lily Tomlin, now reduced to the role of a cantankerous granny who at one point says, "But you jarred loose my bunion pad." These are the times we live in.
The set-up for Malibu Country is same-old, same-old. Reba's philandering husband, country music star Bobby Gallagher (guest star Jeffrey Nordling), is caught having an affair while on his "These Vows Are Sacred Tour." A Nashville news conference is supposed to end with Reba playing his docile, stand-by-your man spouse. Instead she gets fed up and spouts, "He's a moron. And I'm leavin' his lyin', cheatin' butt. Was that the kind of support you were lookin' for?"
So she loads up the truck and they move to Beverly -- Malibu that is. In tow with Reba are Lillie Mae (Tomlin) and her two grandchildren, Cash (Justin Prentice) and June (Juliette Angelo). Get it? Cash and June. Hee hawwwwwww!
Anyhoo, philandering Bobby just happens to have a nicely appointed, ocean-front Malibu party pad that Reba knew nothing about. So they all settle in and immediately are invaded by next door neighbor Kim (Sara Rue), a ditzy, touch-feely Malibu-ian. Lillie Mae is soon pouring shots -- and throwin' hers back.
Transplanted Reba and company aren't exactly the Beverly Hillbillies, but it's OK if you see them that way. When Kim's stepson, Sage (Hudson Thames) proclaims himself gay, Reba begins on a country wrong note: "I'm sorry, you just thew me. I mean, you don't seem gay. You seem normal. I'm not sayin' that gay isn't normal. I was just . . . stammer, stammer . . . I'm gonna go put my head in the freezer." High-larious.
Meanwhile, Lillie Mae gets high on medical marijuana in the form of a "happy lolly" prescribed by a nearby doctor. "I just saw a pelican poop," she tells her daughter after a distraught Reba returns from a no-go meeting at a record producer's office.
Maybe they're just not cut out for Malibu. But then there'd be no series -- which would be a good thing. Wait, though. Reba's not gonna give up just yet. If they want a hit song, then she'll darned well give 'em one. Goes by the name of "Say Hi to the New Me." Time for Kim to pop back in and declare, "I think I heard a hoe down!" She's wearing a cowboy hat and lifting a glass of wine to enhance the mood.
ABC's old TGIF comedy lineups from the 1990s weren't exactly heavy-lifting either. Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Step By Step, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, etc.
But those shows -- with the exception of Mr. Cooper -- primarily were driven by their kid stars and watched by droves of kiddoes, tweens, teens and their accommodating parents. Reba McEntire, Lily Tomlin and Tim Allen are the primary drive shafts of Malibu Country and Last Man Standing. None are on the radar of your basic Justin Bieber worshipper. And adults in the mood to unwind have better Friday night options in CBS' competing Undercover Boss or Fox's Kitchen Nightmares.
Saucy Reba and a tart-tongued Tomlin -- "She said you're a horn dog just like your daddy" -- are for the most part a sad turn of events in Malibu Country. No one's yet said "That dog won't hunt." But this dog won't.