Thursday, October 09, 2014
Cristela - Fridays at 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Friday, October 10, 2014 at 8:30PM ET/PT
Comedian Cristela Alonzo makes her TV debut in the new ABC sitcom, Cristela, a semi-autobiographical series about a woman trying to fulfill her dreams, in spite of her own family. Alonzo plays Cristela, a Mexican-American woman who is trying to finish up an unpaid internship after constantly dropping and and dropping out of law school, while her mother would rather just see her daughter settle down and find a husband. Meanwhile, her home life forces her to also have to deal with her sister and brother-in-law, as well as their two kids, all under one roof. How can she handle it all? That's what you'll find out in this new sitcom.
Cristela Alonzo as Cristela
Carlos Ponce as Felix
Maria Canals-Barrera as Danie;a
Terri Hoyos as Natalia
Andrew Leeds as Josh
Sam McMurray as Trent Culpepper
Justine Lupe as Maddie Culpepper
Jacob Guenther as Henry
Isabella Day as Isabella
Cristela Alonso (Cristela) is not only the star of the series, but she is also the co-creator and co-executive producer. The series marks her scripted series debut, but she has appeared on series such as Conan, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and Last Comic Standing. The series is based (in part) upon her life story.
Carlos Ponce (Felix) plays Cristela's brother-in-law on the series. The Puerto Rican born actor and singer has appeared in several Spanish language series, but has also appeared on American series including Beverly Hills, 90210, 7th Heaven, and Lipstick Jungle. He also served as a correspondent on Entertainment Tonight.
María Canals-Barrera (Daniela) plays Cristela's sister. She is best known for her role as Theresa Russo on Wizards of Waverly Place. She also had a starring role in the short-lived sitcom, The Tony Danza Show, and has appeared in George Lopez, The Loop, Popular, Veronica's Closet, Caroline in the City, and Almost Perfect.
Terri Hoyos (Natalia) plays Cristela's mother, who would just like to see her daughter settle down. The first series that she was cast in was the Fox sitcom The Ortegas, which was talked about a lot, but didn't even make it on the air before it was canceled. She has appeared in series that succeeded, though, including Cold Case, Bones, Criminal Minds, Without a Trace, Dharma and Greg, Parks & Recreation, and Modern Family, among others.
Andrew Leeds (Josh) plays Cristela's co-worker. While he has mostly worked on stage in performances such as Les Miserables, his television appearances have included Grey's Anatomy, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Veep, and Hot in Cleveland. He also has the distinction of being a writer for series pilots, and in fact, three of his pilots have been made by NBC.
Sam McMurray (Trent Culpepper) plays Cristela's supervisor. McMurray also filled the role of boss on the series The King of Queens, but has also appeared in Dinosaurs, Friends, and Freaks and Geeks, among other series. He has also played the role of Herman Munster in the made-for-TV movie The Munsters Scary Little Christmas.
Justine Lupe (Maddie Culpepper) plays Trent's daughter, and Cristela's other co-worker. She previously had a recurring role on Harry's Law, and has also appeared in Southland and Shameless.
Jacob Guenther (Henry) plays the son of Daniela and Felix. The young actor has a recurring role on Mad Men, and appeared on How I Met Your Mother and Sam and Cat, and has also appeared in skits on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Isabella Day (Isabella) plays the daughter of Daniela and Felix. She has done several commercials, and appeared last season on an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
"Pilot" – airs Friday, October 3rd, 2014 at 8:31PM ET/PT
In the pilot episode, we get to meet Cristela and her family. Cristela wants to be a lawyer and has been attending law school off-and-on for years. Natalia, her mother, has other dreams for her: she would like to see her daughter get married and have a big house (but by "big house," she means a big house to work in as a maid). Things are looking up for Cristela, though, as she may be on the verge of landing an unpaid internship at a law firm (a dream at this point in her life)... even if that isn't quite what her mother had in mind for her daughter.
"Soul Mates" – airs Friday, October 10th, 2014 at 8:31PM ET/PT
In this episode, Cristela's family is determined to have her go out on a date, despite her own wishes. They even go so far as to create an online dating profile to find her the perfect soul mate. Determined to do whatever is necessary to have her family leave her alone, she agrees to meet with somebody and go on one of those dates, but she is in for a bit of a surprise when she finds out exactly who her mystery man is.
In what I saw of this series, it wasn't bad, but a big problem that I'm seeing is that it is supposed to be an autobiographical sitcom about somebody who we really don't know. We have seen a lot of this lately, and a lot of it has been marginally successful at best. In a sense, it reminds me of the Margaret Cho sitcom All American Girl that ran almost two decades ago on ABC. It's worth noting that at the time, Cho was also an unknown comedian (she is better known now), and the series even had a similar premise, about a young woman trying to live an American lifestyle against the ethnic traditions of her family. The main difference here (besides the ethnicity) is that Cristela is a more mature woman trying to start a professional career.
Admittedly, I wasn't completely impressed with what I saw in the pilot episode, but "Soul Mates" (which airs on October 17th) was a much better episode than the pilot. Part of the problem with pilots in general, of course, is that they have to waste a lot of time building up the premise and introducing us to who each person is and why they are there, and trying to come up with small stories to make everybody fit in. That tether comes off once the show really begins, and the story in the second episode was a nice (though standard) sitcom episode. Between both episodes, I can't say that I laughed a whole lot, but there were certainly some funny moments. It seems, though, that the series is relying a bit more on stronger scripts, and I think that it has that potential, even if it hasn't quite been fully achieved yet. Also, I have to wonder where the series goes after the internship, assuming that it lasts that long... perhaps if the series works out well, she can be hired full-time? Or if not (but the series somehow manages to succeed in spite of that), could that be a good chance for a retooling? That's a bit off in the future, but it does leave some doors open.
I honestly have to say that this wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting. A lot of what I read going into the pilot was by and large negative, but after watching it, it really wasn't bad. I think a big part of the problem that many people have difficulty with in a series like this (and there have been plenty more with the same issue in the past few seasons) is that it is a semi-autobiographical about a person that nobody knows. I had no idea who Cristela Alonzo was before watching this series, and even after watching it, it is hard to relate the series to who she is and what (if anything) this has to do with her life. This is a giant hurdle that the series is going to have to overcome, because to most people, this series will just be some random series about a Hispanic family. This may be a challenge since ABC has already put it on Friday night, which isn't exactly the "death slot" it was for ABC few years ago (in large part thanks to Shark Tank making people realize that there actually is a Friday night for the networks), but still poses some challenges to the success of a sitcom. It's hard to give a prognosis for this series since Friday is a bit of a wildcard, but I think it'll have plenty of time to prove whether or not it is worth of being a lasting hit.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):
Discuss the show after you watch it on Friday, October 10 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.
Borgasmord Productions' first project, a scripted, single camera comedy titled Life Interrupted officially launched via a Kickstarter Campaign on Tuesday (October 7). The project brings together several fan-favorites playing the non-traditional, and hilariously dysfunctional blended family of Mason Bell as he navigates what is shaping up to be a whopper of a midlife crisis. Bell will be played by Mason Reese, who uttered the spooner-ism "borgasmord" in a series of commercials for a canned-meat product in the '70s. Playing Mason's ex-wife is Alison Arngrim of Little House on the Prairie fame, and in the role of Alison's new wife is Erin Murphy who is best known as Tabitha from Bewitched. Mason's sassy former mother-in-law is the incomparable Dawn Wells aka Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island. The cast is rounded out with Dominican-American heartthrob Luis Jose Lopez (Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights) and Newcomer Robbie Allen. The show also features Robbie Rist (The Brady Bunch, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Brandon Cruz (The Courtship of Eddies Father), Julie Dolan (Gilmore Girls, Detention) and more. Borgasmord Productions is the brain child of Clio Award winning former child-actor Mason Reese and the multi-hyphenated, Emmy nominated Producer-Writer (et al) Steven Wishnoff. The pair has teamed up with some of the most respected production executives in the business to create, develop and deliver content across a broad spectrum of genres for all platforms. The Kickstarter campaign for Life Interrupted runs 10/7/14 – 11/10/14. Back this project today to see some of your favorite classic TV stars in a new comedy!
New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)
09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Thursday, September 29
Superstore - "Back to Work" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Jeff (recurring guest star Michael Bunin), the district manager from corporate, tells the Cloud 9 employees he is going to be around for the day to see what can improve in the store. Amy (America Ferrera) tries to impress him with a perfect day, but a workplace accident threatens her plan. Meanwhile, Glenn (Mark McKinney) tries to come off as a tough boss in front of Jeff, Jonah (Ben Feldman) attempts to help an unyielding Dina (Lauren Ash) win over the employees she betrayed in the strike and Mateo (Nico Santos) discovers something about Jeff in his pursuit to win him over.
The Good Place - "Jason Mendoza" (NBC, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Eleanor (Kristen Bell) faces her toughest test yet in her attempt to remain in hiding. Meanwhile, Michael (Ted Danson) enlists Tahani (Jameela Jamil) to help a fellow neighbor fulfill her true purpose.
The Big Bang Theory - "The Earworm Reverberation" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Sheldon has a revelation when he realizes why a song was stuck in his head. Also, Amy invites Dave (Stephen Merchant) over for dinner despite their previously awkward date, and Wolowitz and Koothrappali become obsessed with a fan of their band, “Footprints on the Moon.”
Kevin Can Wait - "Pilot" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Kevin James stars as a newly retired police officer looking forward to spending carefree, quality time with his wife and three kids, only to find he faces tougher challenges at home than he ever did on the streets.
Better Things - "Woman Is the Something of the Something" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Sam gets really looked at.
Thursday, September 29
- Judith Light (Transparent/Phenom/Who's the Boss?) - Catch Judith on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
- Tim Meadows (Son of Zorn/Marry Me/The Michael Richards Show) - Tim appears on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He will also be on the AOL Build Show at 3pm.
- Max Greenfield (New Girl/Modern Men) - Max drops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community), Dave Foley (Dr. Ken/NewsRadio) and Suzy Nakamura (Dr. Ken/Go On) - Ken, Dave and Suzy are guests on @midnight on Comedy Central at midnight. Ken will also be on Harry, so check your local listings.
- January Jones (The Last Man on Earth) - January stops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry guest co-hosts LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Sarah Jessica Parker (Divorce/Sex and the City/Square Pegs) - Sarah appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Alfonso Ribeiro (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air/In the House/Silver Spoons) - Alfonso joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT. He will also be on the AOL Build Show at 11am.
- Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men/The Powers That Be) - Holland talks about The Front Page on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
- Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Guys with Kids) - Jamie-Lynn is a guest on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York sometime between 7-10am and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.