Life gets a little complicated for local politician, Melissa "Mel" Burke (Melissa Joan Hart) when her sister and brother-in-law get in trouble for stealing money, leaving her to take care of her niece Lennox (Taylor Spreitler) and nephew Ryder (Nick Robinson). Mel isn't exactly mother material, after all she used to be the kind of aunt that said things like "Let's get matching tattoos." Now, she's unsure whether to be the cool aunt or a parental figure. Amidst all of her work and trying to adjust with two teenagers in home, Mel considers hiring help. It's only when Lennox gets suspended that Mel realizes she has to hire someone to help her with the kids and keeping the house organized.
Enter Joe Longo (Joey Lawrence), who has lost all of his money thanks to Mel's sister and brother-in-law. Joe comes on a bit strong at first, hoping Mel can help him get a job since he's lost his house and is living in his car. Not to mention the fact that his wife left him. When Mel tells him there's a hiring freeze, Joe sees an opportunity to become her nanny (or manny), and reluctantly, she agrees. Things don't go too well at first, but when Joe manages to get through to Lennox, Mel realizes Joe might be good for the job after all.
Part one of season one focused on the dynamic between Joe and Mel, but it also involved some subplots centered around the fact that Lennox and Ryder's parents were responsible for Joe's job loss. Throughout season one, there's never any real sense that Joe holds any animosity towards the family, in fact he turns out to be a great parent/friend figure that they need. Not only does he help Lennox and Ryder, but he also teaches Mel how to take care of two impressionable teens. As for any hints at a relationship between Joe and Mel, there were some, but otherwise the show managed to skirt around that possibility throughout most of part one. By part two, however there is more talk and hints in regards to the potential relationship between the main characters.
Part two of season one gains further momentum as Joe and Mel start to find their footing together, and Lennox and Ryder start to settle in. In part two, there are some episodes that feel like standard sitcom episodes, however there are some that while not entirely original ideas, manage to shine in the delivery and the direction they take. In "Joe Versus The Reunion," Joe finds himself competing with a former classmate for attention, and when Mel shows up to act as his date, she starts to get in the way when he reconnects with a girl from his past. In the part two's first episode, Joe's ex-wife Tiffany (Megan Hilty) shows up with the hope of getting back together and ends up sharing a rather large secret with Mel. Part two not only offers some standard episodes, but several memorable ones, including "The Other Longo" (This episode is actually the second episode on the disc, despite how they're labeled) where Joe's younger brother, Tony comes to visit. Joey Lawrence's real life brother, Matthew Lawrence plays Tony. The younger Lawrence brother, Andrew also makes an appearance in part two in the episode "Teacher/Teacher." Vivica A. Fox also guest stars in "Toledo's Next Top Model," where Lennox is asked to be a model, but has to get permission from Mel while deciding if its what she really wants.
While most of the episodes wrap up in thirty minutes, part two does extend a romantic storyline when Mel starts dating a younger man, George (Scott Michael Foster) in "Yong Love." While there is somewhat more focus on additional characters in part two, the majority of the season continues to follow Mel, Joe, Lennox and Ryder in their day to day lives. These episodes turn out being the most enjoyable thanks to the performances and writing centered around the ups and downs of living together. Hart and Lawrence turn in memorable performances that help set the series apart, and their banter never feels tired.
By the end of season one, the relationship between Mel and Joe is addressed in more depth when Joe comes into some money and considers leaving Mel's. The episodes appear in a different order than they aired, but all remaining eighteen episodes are available. Unfortunately, there are no extra features.
Season 1, Part 2
1-13 29/Jun/11 Enemies With Benefits
1-14 06/Jul/11 Don't Train On My Parade
1-15 13/Jul/11 Lost in Translation
1-16 20/Jul/11 Joe Versus The Reunion
1-17 27/Jul/11 Toledo's Next Top Model
1-18 03/Aug/11 The Mel Word
1-19 03/Aug/11 Auction Hero
1-20 10/Aug/11 Waiting For Mr. Right
1-21 17/Aug/11 Young Love
1-22 17/Aug/11 Mel And Joe's Anniversary
1-23 24/Aug/11 Going the Distance?
1-24 24/Aug/11 All Politics Is Local
1-25 31/Aug/11 The Other Longo
1-26 31/Aug/11 Teacher/Teacher
1-27 07/Sep/11 Play Ball
1-28 07/Sep/11 A House Divided
1-29 14/Sep/11 Do as I Say, Not as I Did
1-30 14/Sep/11 The Settlement
VIDEO: The series is presented by Shout Factory in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Presentation quality is quite nice, as the series looked smooth, crisp and clean throughout much of the running time. A couple of minor instances of shimmer were spotted at times, but the transfer was otherwise largely pristine. Colors looked rich and warm, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The show is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but the audio is narrowly focused and dialogue-driven, which is no surprise, given the material. Audio quality was fine, with clear dialogue and music.
There are no extra features.
Final Thoughts: With eighteen episodes, Part Two Season One feels like a full season with some fun guest stars, humorous writing and performances. "Melissa and Joey" stands apart as a memorable sitcom.