Take Me To The Pilots ’14: NBC’s ‘The Mysteries of Laura’

[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: “The Mysteries of Laura” (NBC)
The Pitch: I'll go with NPR's Linda Holmes on this one: “CopMom MomCop.”
Quick Response: “The Mysteries of Laura” is a broad cop drama, a broad family drama and a broad character-driven comedy all squished together. In order to achieve the absolute peak of its potential value, this premise needed a director with a genuine mastery of tones, somebody gifted with each of those sides. I think a Mimi Leder or a Tommy Schlamme or somebody from the “Shameless” factory could have made that side of things work (even if the script still would have been weak). Instead, “Mysteries of Laura” got McG and the resulting pilot is just an amorphous and ludicrous blob of hammy inconsistency centered around a performance from Debra Messing that's best described as “Robert Greenblatt loves Debra Messing, but Robert Greenblatt doesn't quite get what Debra Messing does well.” It's not Messing's fault she doesn't know what the tone of “Mysteries of Laura” is supposed to be, but since this is her show, it can't work if she's veering between sitcom, melodrama and straight up campy telenovela depending on the scene. If you believe Debra Messing can do no wrong, you'll like “Mysteries of Laura,” but if you have any doubts on her character's believability in the “real” world for a single second, your reaction will probably be a lot like my notes, which contain at least five variations on “Wait. We're supposed to find this character appealing?!?” The show is so darned self-satisfied with the shocking revelation that it's OK to be a mother AND a successful detective that it's practically daring you to say things like, “Ummm… She's a psycho,” so that it can go “Would you say something like that about a MAN?” And I'm not sure what year “Mysteries of Laura” would be progressive in, but it's sure not 2014. Fortunately, as awful as Laura is, her ex-husband, played by a smirking Josh Lucas, is even worse and we're supposed to view him as a lovable rascal, not as a sociopath who probably should be the recipient of a restraining order, rather than encouraged to frequently push himself more and more into Laura's life. So far as my own viewing went, Lucas' character exists so that you have somebody you'll root for Laura against. Certainly I took Janina Gavankar's Meredith's side over Laura, even if her character is just there to be sexy and say snide things about how matronly Laura is seeming at any moment. Ugh. The “Mysteries of Laura” tries to combine a murder investigation with lots of peeing and barfing humor, punctuating the drama and low comedy with mawkish scenes in which Laura worries that she's an awful mother — she has, after all, raised two horrible sons she seems to have no connection with — and then people reassure her that she's a great mother. Blech. And yet you know the amazing thing? Based on NBC's early promotion and upfronts clips? I expected to hate “Mysteries of Laura” even more. This is a solid “D” and I'd been led to expect an “F.” Nice undersell, NBC.
Desire To Watch Again: If NBC sends out a second and/or third episode for “Laura” before premiere, I'll watch them, due diligence and all. If not, however, I doubt I'll take the extra steps to DVR or OnDemand another episode at any point. Sorry.

Take Me To The Pilots '14: CBS' 'The McCarthys'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: ABC's 'How To Get Away With Murder'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: FOX's 'Mulaney'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: 'Marry Me'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: CBS' 'Madam Secretary'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: ABC's 'Forever'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: FOX's 'Red Band Society'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: NBC's 'State of Affairs'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: CBS' 'Stalker'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: ABC's 'Selfie'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: The CW's 'Jane the Virgin'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: FOX's 'Gotham'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: NBC's 'Constantine'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: CBS' 'Scorpion'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: ABC's 'Black-ish'
Take Me To The Pilots '14: The CW's 'The Flash'
All of my 2013 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
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