Inexplicably I watch the entertainment awards from time to time. And recently I was stunned when the Emmys aired and Melissa McCarthy won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. Normally I wouldn't break a sweat over such things; I had seen (and liked) her in a supporting role in the now-defunct Gilmore Girls show and she got rave reviews for her work in Bridesmaids. But Best Actress, really? When Laura Linney turned in a stellar first season in The Big C and Amy Poehler was part of the breakout year of Parks and Recreation?? It's in this curiosity that made me want to seek out Mike & Molly
For better or worse, the creative forces behind the show have pedigree. The show's executive producer is Chuck Lorre, from Two and a Half Men and more recently a feud with former star Charlie Sheen. James Burrows directs the episodes, with his hits including Frasier and Will and Grace, to name a few. McCarthy's Molly is an elementary school teacher who goes to meetings at Overeaters Anonymous and meets Mike, a Chicago policeman played by Billy Gardell, late from a recurring role in My Name Is Earl. The two seem to have a budding romance between them, and Mike talks about how to deal with his relationship with his beat partner Carl (Reno Wilson, Crank 2). Meanwhile, Molly tries to handle this new inclusion in her wife while sharing a house with her Mom Joyce (Swoosie Kurtz, Pushing Daisies) and sister Victoria (Katy Mixon, Eastbound & Down). The show's first season focuses on the developing relationship of Mike and Molly to see them become Mike & Molly, with some moments of hilarity thrown in for good measure.
Except there's one problem: the show isn't funny. It uses the traditional sitcom format and thinks that people should laugh because the show's stars utter lines that have the same subtlety behind them. That subtlety is "I'm REALLY fat! You should laugh because I'm REALLY fat!!!" McCarthy does this with her usual charisma, which is to say that there are moments of likability with her mixed with a sadness that she has to utter such tripe after some of the material she's worked with before. But Gardell is the bigger issue in the comedic sense. He says his lines the same way, using the same general expression, resulting in hit or (mostly) miss results. This can be particularly problematic when you're a comic who's even released an album of stand-up material as he has. McCarthy's charm is okay, but hardly enough to lift Gardell's bland delivery into laugh out loud territory.
The material is also erratic, with some jokes that (if said by the right people) could be funny, but the writers use the same general gag about Carl living with his grandmother for the first three or four episodes of the show. When we do finally meet the grandmother, I was surprised to see that Cleo King (The Hangover) filled the role. I was additionally surprised to see that she had grey hair to fill out the role. Then I looked at saw that not only was it a wig, but in actuality she's only seven years older than Gardell. Don't get me wrong, I like King, but really? Come on. Kurtz plays the cougar mother that really should be a grandmother effectively, and while Mixon seems to be having the most fun with her part as the clueless and sometimes pot-smoking sister, her obliviousness feels like a slap in the face to her headstrong-ish romantic lead opposite Kenny Powers.
With as much nonsense as the show tries to pass off as entertainment, the occasional semi-genuine moment of heartfelt emotion does dull the sharp edges. The show after all is about Mike and Molly, and at its core spending more time with the two can possibly lead to good things. However, if you're going to through all these other unfunny elements in the show and say that it's funny, I'm left wondering exactly how the show works. More importantly, if McCarthy did anything that could be considered transcendently funny compared to Poehler, Linney and even Tina Fey, I sure didn't see it after watching two dozen episodes of this detritus.
Again, I'd like to say that I don't hate McCarthy. I think she's a solid actress and by all accounts a good person. But after seeing what her peers did compared to her, and seeing that she got all of the glory, I'm still baffled. Moreover I'm left additionally wondering just what it is that CBS is doing these days to get and keep all of this popularity on some of the shows out there (cough, Big Bang Theory, cough cough). I guess if it's working why stop it, but for McCarthy and CBS, guess you're resting on a comfortable pillow of money, because I don't know how you're sleeping at night.
The Blu-ray Discs:
24 episodes split evenly over two discs, with each episode presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and using the AVC encode to boot. I'll go out on a limb and presume the show is airing in high definition natively and these episodes appear to be consistent with that. Flesh tones look sharp, black levels are strong and consistent, and the show sports a variety of colors at times, and they all look good without being oversaturated. The image detail is decent though hardly reference quality, and virtually all of what is clear and well-detailed is in the foreground. To sum it up, this is a faithful reproduction of a television show with solid production values.
24 episodes of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround to entertain, and things sound fine. The show is dialogue-driven with little to no action in the rear channels as far as directional effects and channel panning to make it feel immersive (other than the many instances of audience laughter). There is an occasional instance where the subwoofer kicks in because you know, fat people tend to do loud things that require low-end fidelity, but the show doesn't call on its soundtrack to do much generally. But it does well with the hand it's dealt.
There aren't too many extras here, which is either a good or bad thing depending on your stance on the show. Disc One starts with "Falling in Love with Mike & Molly" (10:19), a segment when the cast gets to interview each other and ask questions about the show and their characters, along with what they like about the production. The obligatory favorite moments and episodes are tossed around as well. Overall this was pretty topical. The "Play Acts" are when the cast recreates an already shot segment in a cutaway car, but done for a live audience to capture some atmosphere (9:51). The process is discussed and the cast shares their thoughts on it, and favored scenes by the stars are remembered here also.
Disc Two starts with more of these play acts (9:26), put together with a little more raw footage and without the interviews and cast rapport. The gag reel (3:17) is surprisingly funny (and I'd hope more live-shot shows include those if they aren't already), and a pointless "interview" with the dog owned by Mike's mother on the show (2:14) rounds things out.
After the first season of Mike & Molly, I think I can safely say without reservation that unless a gun is held to my head, I won't expose myself to a second. The discs look and sound okay, but with the few marginally entertaining extras, I wouldn't even recommend fans of the show pick this up until those involved make things a little more consumer-friendly. Stick to watching it on television and scratch your head in disbelief, it worked for me.