Reba McEntire is back at it tonight in her new multicam sitcom for ABC Malibu Country, which follows an ex-singer/songwriter leaving her cheating husband, packing up her family, and moving them to Malibu, California. If you’re wondering why it all sounds so familiar, that’s because Reba has done this song and dance before in her hit (in a sense) sitcom for The WB Reba. (Which was then cancelled after its sixth and last season on The CW for not capturing the right demographic. In fact, The CW only produced a sixth season because it would have been too expensive to cancel everyone’s contracts.)
Complete discretion, I was a huge fan of Reba the sitcom. And I think that Reba, the singer, proved herself to be quite comedic and shone brightly in it. So when I heard that Reba was returning to television, I couldn’t help but be excited. I knew that it was mostly going to be Reba just in a different setting, and I was totally fine with that. The problem is that the execution doesn’t exactly match up to my expectations
The result is the cheap man’s Reba. You’ve got the main character, who is the same. The blonde, ditzy neighbor. The cheating husband (who may or may not have a role down the line). It has all the elements and it all adds up to something like Reba, but it never truly gets to the level of entertainment that the old sitcom was.
I won’t lie to you, however. I’ve only seen the first episode. And pilot episodes aren’t always a great indication of what the series may turn out to be. For example, it wasn’t really until season 2 that Reba made Barbara Jean a more prominent character — and that was definitely for the better. It remains to be seen how the show will find itself and/or be retooled from here on out. For now, this show seems to be set on trying to update the old family-friendly sitcom format, which in turn doesn’t allow for it to shine at its full potential. Reba’s quippy insult to her husband at a press event is “he’s a moron.” Later on in the episode, Reba’s neighbor’s stepson, who says he’s gay just so that he can “practice” kiss girls seems almost out of place given what the comedy tries to be. Then again, it’s sad that in 2012 it feels out of place. But such is the case. A lot of this may have to do with Reba’s influence, given six years of Reba, I don’t think she ever cursed once. And storylines were always dealt with great care with that 1990s Full House feel, if you get what I’m saying.
But then the writers have grandma smoke some marijuana and giggle like an idiot.
The main problem with Malibu Country is that it’s not Reba. The chemistry feels off balance. And it’s certainly not as good as it could be or could have been, struggling to find the balance of being an old-timey family sitcom in 2012. Mostly though, it’s a waste of everyone’s talents. But as aforementioned it could always improve.
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