Thursday, June 17, 2010

'Hot in Cleveland' Left Me Cold

OK, I'll admit it.

When I was an adolescent, I had a crush on Valerie Bertinelli. I guess she was cuter when she was 15. Or maybe I was more easily stimulated then.

In the '90s, I guess I kinda liked Jane Leeves. I enjoyed the Frasier series — still do — but I felt more attracted to the character of Roz (Peri Gilpin).

Wendie Malick? Never gave her much thought.

Well, anyway, the three of them are co–stars with Betty White (who was way before my time) in a new "sitcom" on TVLand. The show made its debut last night.

Now, I know that a series' first episode is seldom one of its best. Its primary purpose is to introduce the audience to the main characters and, perhaps, lay the groundwork for running jokes. In what I suppose could be called best–case scenarios, folks who are involved in the production of a new series hope viewers will continue to tune in because they are intrigued.

If that was the objective, they missed the target with me, I'm afraid. The premiere episode was aired twice, and I watched it twice — but I haven't decided if I will watch it again. Most of the "humor" came across as a lot of man–bashing — when it wasn't cliched humor about age and promiscuity.

Not that there would be anything wrong with that ... except that it lacks much of a context. The whole premise of the show is that the three younger women, who appear to have been relatively untouched by the economy, are on the way from Los Angeles to France for a vacation when their plane is forced to make an emergency landing in Cleveland.

Instead of simply waiting in the airport for the next available flight, they wander into the city and find themselves at a working–class bar — where the men think they're hot and are convinced they're light eaters because they only order chili fries.

Ultimately — and inexplicably — they decide to rent a house in Cleveland instead of going to Paris for the month. Along the way, many jokes were made, none of which struck me as particularly funny. But perhaps that's just a matter of personal taste.

Maybe Hot in Cleveland will be a smash hit. All four of the women who star in it have been involved, in one way or another, with hit shows before.

But it will be awhile before I watch again.