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Welcome once again to our annual "first look" at the broadcast networks' offerings for the 2010-2011 season. Each day we'll walk you through one of the new series set to premiere next season (or one that didn't make the cut) and go over our initial impressions after viewing the pilot. Keep in mind that a lot can change from what's being screened right now - recasting, reshooting, etc. - but we still want to give you a heads up on what you should (and shouldn't) keep on your radar in the coming months. So enough of our rambling, on with the show!
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The following is based on the original sales presentation which was screened to us privately or supplied by a third party NOT an informational, not-for-review screener provided by the network in question.]
MIKE & MOLLY (CBS)
(written by Mark Roberts; directed by James Burrows; TRT: 20:46)
The network's description: "MIKE & MOLLY is a comedy from Chuck Lorre ("Two and a Half Men," and "The Big Bang Theory") about a working class Chicago couple who find love at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. Officer Mike Biggs (Billy Gardell) is a good-hearted cop who sincerely wants to lose weight. Mike's partner, Officer Carl McMillan (Reno Wilson), is a thin, fast-talking wise-guy, who despite his teasing encourages Mike on his road to slimness and romance. While speaking at an O.A. meeting, Mike meets Molly Flynn (Melissa McCarthy), an instantly likeable fourth-grade teacher with a healthy sense of humor about her curves.
For Molly, focusing on smart choices isn't easy because she lives with her sexy older sister, Victoria (Katy Mixon), and their mother, Joyce (Swoosie Kurtz), both of whom flaunt their healthy appetites and slender figures. Mike also faces temptation at the diner he and Carl frequent, where they've become friends with the Senegalese waiter, Samuel (Nyambi Nyambi), who finds trying to eat less a foreign concept. For Mike and Molly, thanks to their mutual love of pie and the desire to resist it, finding each other may have been worth the "weight." Chuck Lorre and Mark Roberts are executive producers for Chuck Lorre Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television."
What did they leave out? Definitely not fat jokes.
The plot in a nutshell: Beat cop Mike Biggs (Billy Gardell) seems content with his latest diet, even if it's cribbed from Modern Bride. Carl (Reno Wilson), his partner, and Samuel (Nyambi Nyambi), the waiter at their favorite diner, however don't think he'll last long on bunless hot dogs and bottles of water. Schoolteacher Molly Flynn (Melissa McCarthy) likewise struggles with hers, a fact not helped by her mom Joyce (Swoosie Kurtz) or her sister Victoria (Katy Mixon), both of whom have the same eating habits as Molly but gain none of the weight. Thankfully Mike and Molly both have Overeaters Anonymous, where they can share their struggles and war stories involving Fun Size Snickers.
There Molly proves to be particularly impressed by Mike's latest share ("I figure if everybody's laughing they won't try and kill and cook each other") and asks him to speak to her fourth-graders. Mike however is hesitant to try and take things to the next level (Mike: "I just don't want to come off as desperate." Carl: "Yeah but you are desperate." Mike: "No, I'm lonely and miserable - there's a difference."), even if Molly drops all the signals she'd be open to it. Frustrated, Mike nearly falls off the wagon but Carl intervenes ("This isn't dinner, this is suicide with meatball bullets.") and a stroke of luck gives him a second chance with Molly.
What works: If you're keeping score at home...
What doesn't: ...there's fat jokes (Carl: "I would shoot you right now but I don't have enough chalk to outline your body."), fat jokes (Victoria: "I'm going sneak into the little girls room and light up a fatty. No offense fellas."), fat jokes (Mike: "I start every morning getting on my knees and asking God to give me the strength to stay on my diet. And then I pray he gives me the strength to get my fat ass up off the floor."), fat jokes (Carl: "Please tell me why we let them go? The pothead had jungle fever and you could have gotten the other one with a taffy apple."), even more fat jokes (Kid in Molly's class: "How can you be a cop and be so fat?") and - wait for it - some more fat jokes (Carl: "You met her at an OA meeting, I mean she sticks her hand under there and doesn't find a man bra, she's going to be ecstatic.").
I really wish I could say it's more than that as even its few attempts at sweetness are thrown under the bus in the name of cheap laughs. Whether it's Mike recounting how his father inspired him to become a cop (Kid: "What happened? Did he die?" Mike: "Nah he fell in love with a prostitute, divorced my mom and moved to Tampa. Tore the whole family apart.") or Mike explaining to Molly his love of marine animals (Mike: "There's something really soothing about watching those giant creatures float around each other all graceful and weightless." Molly: "Sounds like my water aerobics class."), everything is designed to remind you you're watching fat people talk about being fat and fat-related things are happening.
Sure I get that OA is part of the premise and the characters are self-deprecating to cope with their struggles but wow is the fat joke angle overwhelming. That and their generally eye-rolling quality (Carl: "I'm not going to let you blow your diet, you just lost three and a half pounds." Mike: "Big deal, my farts weight three and a half pounds."). All in all, I'd like to think if Mike and Molly were really people, they'd have other aspects of their lives. "Mike & Molly" however seems to be content with...
The bottom line: ...just fat jokes.