[In case you’ve Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all “These are reviews.” If you’ve read me, you’ve read my reviews and you know this isn’t what they look like.]
Show: “Made in Jersey” (CBS)
The Pitch: “My Cousin Vinnie,” if you got rid of Joe Pesci and it just turned out that Marisa Tomei was a talented lawyer, in addition to being a hilarious ethnic stereotype.
Quick Response: There was a period a few summers ago when kept looking up an attractive, vivid supporting actress who I couldn’t immediately identify and it turned out to be Janet Montgomery each time, even though the parts were as different as a British Hollywood secretary and a fantasy football advice-dispensing Las Vegas stripper. After two IMDB searches and one casting announcement, I finally got her name locked in, which isn’t bad by my standards. Janet Montgomery *is* a star. I agree with FOX, which brought her in in an unsuccessful attempt to goose ratings for “Human Target” and I agree with CBS, which cast Montgomery in a show called “Made in Jersey,” despite a natural accent that’s distinctly from the wrong side of The Pond. I don’t really know what to make of “Made in Jersey,” unfortunately. CBS has been running trailers which focus more on Fish Out of Water humor than the actual tone of the show, which is closer to a straight-forward character-driven legal procedural with hints of cartoony local color. Montgomery, whose Jersey accent is acceptable, if not flawless, is very good playing a woman who comes off as kinda a Sherlock Holmes for trashy, blue collar details. She’s sexy and straight-forward and Montgomery really isn’t mugging or over-relying on stereotypes. The same cannot be said of Donna Murphy and Erin Cummings as two members of the main character’s Big Stereotypical Italian Family, an element that the producers said at TCA press tour that they intend to play up. Ugh. Bad idea. I’m also concerned by Stephanie March, whose character only exists to waltz in and out of scenes underestimating our heroine and spitting out WASP-y condemnations of Jersey. I sense that creator Dana Calvo is using March as the one-dimensional embodiment of all of the people who underestimated her, but when half of the cast seems to be living down to Jersey stereotypes, it’s tough to know what to take seriously. Coming out of the pilot, I think I have a good sense of what Felix Solis and Toni Trucks are going to contribute to this show, but I don’t have a clue why Kyle MacLachlan is here.
Desire To Watch Again: I think I’m curious to see what show “Made in Jersey” actually ends up being. The more serious version of the show could live up to Montgomery’s talent and could make an appropriate hammock show between “CSI: NY” and “Blue Bloods” in CBS’ schedule. The hammier, more gag-driven version of the show will stick out like a sore thumb in CBS’ Friday lineup and will likely be gone by midseason, setting Montgomery up for better and maybe bigger things down the road. I’ll give this one another week or two to see which show it becomes. Watching CBS meddle “A Gifted Man” into an early grave last year didn’t give me confidence.
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: The CW’s ‘Emily Owens, M.D.’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: FOX’s ‘Mob Doctor’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: NBC’s ‘Animal Practice’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘Last Resort’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: CBS’ ‘Vegas’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: The CW’s ‘Beauty & The Beast’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘666 Park Avenue’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: NBC’s ‘Chicago Fire’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: FOX’s ‘Ben and Kate’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: CBS’ ‘Elementary’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: The CW’s ‘Arrow’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: ABC’s ‘The Neighbors’
Take Me To The Pilots ’12: NBC’s ‘Revolution’
All of last year’s Take Me To The Pilots entries