Take Me To The Pilots ’13: CBS’ ‘Mom’

[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:“Mom” (CBS)
Airs:Mondays at 9:30 p.m.
The Pitch: “1 Broke Girl & Her Mum”
Quick Response: “Mom” is the last of the fall premieres to get a Take Me To The Pilots entry. [EDIT: I forgot about “Dracula.” I keep forgetting about “Dracula,” which NBC made easier by not doing anything with “Dracula” at either Comic-Con or TCA press tour. One of these days I’ll watch it. But I’m transitioning into midseason pilots for a while after this.] That’s because “Mom” is exactly what you think it is, for better and (somewhat more) for worse. Suggesting that this Chuck Lorre-produced multi-cam comedy is too broad for its own good and that its coarseness is frequently cringeworthy — i.e. a joke about a teenager’s sex-stained sheets — would have all of the shock or value of saying a David Milch pilot was wordy and somewhat cryptic or that the characters on an Amy Sherman-Palladino show kept talking faster than real people actually talk. There are whole characters and subplots — the slutty teenage daughter, French Stewart’s one-liner-spouting snobby chef (“Beat those egg whites gently, as if they were a small, annoying child,” is the pinnacle of his comedic contribution) — that I could excise entirely, though at least I get the generational purpose of the horny daughter stuff. I would, in general, say that “Mom” is not a very good pilot. But there are kernels here that I’m curious about, things that work exactly as well as you might hope. Anna Faris has always been an admirably committed comedienne, an actress never afraid of playing ugly or pushing her performances “big” if the situation requires. And here, she hits every sitcom-y punchline with authority and when she’s asked to cry ridiculously, she does it with an agility that calls to mind some TV greats (I’m resisting naming names because hyperbole will do me no favors). Faris also nails the dramatic scenes. Her character is a recovering addict and the AA scene at the show’s center is actually its most interesting element, just as the Overeaters Anonymous scene gave the “Mike & Molly” pilot a weirdly grounded core that was immediately drowned out in a sea of fat jokes, causing me to stop watching after five or six episodes. [No clue if it got better. Some people still seem to like that show.] A version of “Mom” that I would watch would continue to keep the recovery thread as close to the surface as possible, because that melancholy shading would benefit Faris and also benefit Allison Janney, who is fine here, but isn’t asked to do nearly enough. I’m still a strong advocate of Janney’s work in “Mr. Sunshine” (Yay) and I appreciate the amount of “damaged” she’s capable of bringing to comedic characters. My ideal “Mom” is a bit like NBC’s “Go On” in tone. And you know who doesn’t care about that ideal? Chuck Lorre! Oh and viewers, because audiences didn’t like “Go On.” I think that French Stewart and the glibly treated teenage daughter and the pot-dealing ex (even if he’s played by the always-welcome Matt Jones) are the Lorre-est elements of this pilot and probably the elements the subsequent episodes are more likely to accentuate. There’s a good show featuring Faris and Janney and roughly this premise. The pilot has maybe five minutes of that show and 17 minutes of something else.
Desire To Watch Again: After a podcast a few weeks ago, I was forced to go back to my “2 Broke Girls” Take Me To The Pilot to see that I was far more generous towards the show than I would feel only a week or two later. My feeling was that there was a potentially great show starring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs and then there was everything around them and I hoped it became the good version of itself and, instead, it continued to be the bad version. I think “Mom” is a lot like “2 Broke Girls,” where there’s a version that could well become a big hit for CBS and then there’s the version I’d like, which would probably have to be on NBC or FOX and would probably tank. The networks have conspired to make Mondays at 9 into one of the weakest hours for me all season. Just as this time period will give me a chance to let “Sleepy Hollow” settle into itself, I’ll probably also give “Mom” a chance to become the show I don’t want it to be. And yes, I’ll probably keep watching “2 Broke Girls,” which is an all-too-fitting lead-in.

Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s ‘Lucky 7’  
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: FOX’s ‘Dads’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s ‘Super Fun Night’  
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: NBC’s ‘Welcome to the Family’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: CBS’ ‘The Millers’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: FOX’s ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s ‘The Goldbergs’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: NBC’s ‘Ironside’
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: CBS’ ‘We Are Men’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: FOX’s ‘Almost Human’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s ‘Back in the Game’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: NBC’s ‘Sean Saves the World’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: The CW’s ‘Reign’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: CBS’ ‘The Crazy Ones’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: FOX’s ‘Enlisted’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s ‘Betrayal’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: The CW’s ‘The Tomorrow People’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: CBS’ ‘Hostages’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: FOX’s ‘Sleepy Hollow’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: ABC’s ‘Trophy Wife’ 
Take Me To The Pilots ’13: NBC’s ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’ 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries