Tuesday, March 28, 2017

ABC Mid-Season Pilot Review: Imaginary Mary - Premieres Wednesday (March 29); Johnny Galecki Heads to Science Channel Series

Imaginary Mary

Imaginary Mary - Special Preview Wednesday, March 29 at 8:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Moves to Tuesdays Starting April 4 at 9:30PM ET/PT


by Todd

Alice (Jenna Elfman) is a fiercely independent career woman whose life is turned upside-down when she meets the love of her life – a divorced father with three kids. This triggers even more upheaval when the slightly unhinged imaginary friend she created as a child suddenly reappears to help her navigate the transition from single girl to a woman ready for a family.

Cast Details:

Jenna Elfman as Alice
Stephen Schneider as Ben
Nicholas Coombe as Andy
Matreya Scarrwener as Dora
Erica Tremblay as Bunny
Rachel Dratch as the voice of Mary

Jenna Elfman (Alice) is best known for her role as Dharma on the ABC sitcom Dharma & Greg. She has starred in the short-lived sitcoms Courting Alex, Accidentally on Purpose, 1600 Penn and Growing Up Fisher. In 2012, she played Naomi Walling in the final season of the award-winning drama Damages. Some of her feature film credits include EDtv, Keeping the Faith, Looney Tunes: Back in Action and Friends with Benefits.

Stephen Schneider (Ben) has starred in the Broad City on Comedy Central and You're the Worst on FXX. Some of his other sitcom appearances include Happy Endings, Best Friends Forever and Save Me.

Nicholas Coombe (Andy) has made guest appearances in Supernatural, Motive and iZombie. His film credits include Pants on Fire and Midnight Sun.

Matreya Scarrwener (Dora) has starred in Strange Empire and Ties That Bind. Some of her other television credits include R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour, Spooksville, Once Upon a Time and Falling Skies.

Erica Tremblay's (Bunny) television credits include The Killing, Supernatural and Motive. Her upcoming film projects include The Bye Bye Man and Before I Fall.

Rachel Dratch (voice of Mary) was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1999 to 2006. Some of her sitcom guest appearances include The King of Queens, Frasier, 30 Rock, Wizards of Waverly Place, Up All Night, Suburgatory, The Middle and Parks and Recreation.




Pilot Plot:

The first two episodes were available for review.

"Pilot" (Airs March 29 at 8:30PM ET)
A fiercely independent career woman, Alice has her life turned upside-down when she meets Ben, a divorced father with three children, and soon falls head-over-heals for him. This triggers more upheaval when the imaginary friend she created as a child, Mary, suddenly reappears as she is nervous to meet Ben’s kids for the first time.
Directed by Shawn Levy
Written by Adam F. Goldberg & David Guarascio (with a story by Adam F. Goldberg, David Guarascio and Patrick Osborne)
Guest Stars: Marin Page as Alice (age 6), Jilena Cori as Alice’s mother, Jason Cermak as Alice’s father, Kadence Roach as Alice (age 11), Marci T. House as Mother talent show, Jamie Schneider as Alice (age 18), Braeden Clarke as Boy in Bed, Jaime Callica as Hot Male Bartender and Luke Sykes as Handsome Businessman

"The Mom Seal" (Airs April 4 at 9:30PM ET)
When Ben asks Alice to help him with her first mom-like task to pick up Bunny from dance class, Mary quickly discovers the simplest parental tasks are fraught with difficulty. Afterwards, Ben is disappointed when Alice tells him she can’t help with the kids anymore, but things change when Andy enlists Alice’s help to overcome his fear of taking a driving test.
Directed by Shawn Levy
Written by Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern
Guest Stars: Diana Bang as Gigi, Dave Peniuk as Doctor, Nathan Jean as Man, Bronwen Smith as Megan, Aaron Hutchinson as Paramedic, Gabriel Vill as Waiter, Bethany Brown as Uninformed Millenial and Roberta Gardoni as Frazzled Mom




Analysis:

Imaginary Mary is a single-camera live action/CGI hybrid comedy. It comes from The Goldbergs team Adam F. Goldberg (writer/executive producer), David Guarascio (writer/executive producer) and Doug Robinson (executive producer). Mary CG animation is designed by Patrick Osborne (creator of Academy Award-winning animated short The Feast, who is also executive producer). The pilot was directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Cheaper by the Dozen), who is also executive producer. The series is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television, Happy Madison and ABC Studios.

In the "Pilot" episode, there is a flashback scene where Alice is age 6. She draws and creates Mary in her mind. Alice's parents weren't always there for her, but Mary was when she was needed. There is also a flashback scene when Alice is 18 and with a boy in bed. In the present day as an adult, Mary owns her own business a PR rep for pro athletes. She meets Ben who has an online dating profile named DivorcedRadDad. Alice helps Ben fix his profile. Three months later, they are a couple. Ben's kids arrive home, but Alice isn't prepared to meet them yet and scrambles out the window. Ben tells the kids that he is dating Alice and wants them to meet her. Alice and Ben have dinner where Mary appears again. Alice is scared to meet the kids, but they eventually visit her place. Unfortunately, the kids cause some damage at her home. Alice tries to give Ben some advice. After meeting the kids, Alice and Mary drink at a bar and sing karaoke. Alice and Ben then decide whether they want to continue seeing each other.

The "Pilot" episode is very fast-paced and provides a good introduction to the characters. There are only five main cast members plus Mary, so there is plenty of screen time for all of them. The "Pilot" and second episode is directed by Shawn Levy, who has directed film such as Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther and the Night at the Museum franchise. He was the perfect choice as a director and producer because he has worked with kids and CGI often. The CGI in the first two episodes looks very good. They made some changes in the design and animation of Mary from the original trailer last year. The character is more cute looking. I'm sure kids will want their own Mary plush dolls, whatever she is.

Jenna Elfman leads a talented cast. She makes her return to ABC in her first starring role on the network since Dharma & Greg ended in 2002. It's hard to believe it's nearly 15 years to the day that the series ended. She has starred in a string of short-lived sitcoms on other networks since then, so hopefully she has more success with this one. She does a very good job here in one of her better roles. She filmed her scenes with a puppet. It probably isn't easy to act that way, but she has done it before in Looney Tunes: Back in Action. Rachel Dratch was a fine choice as the voice of Mary. She brings the character to life. It seems like she is allowed to improvise and go a little bit crazy. Stephen Schneider has some good chemistry with Elfman already. The child actors seems very natural and do a good job. Nicholas Coombe as Andy is a standout in the second episode especially. They show a scene at Alice's business with her employees in the second episode, so I wonder if we will see some recurring characters in upcoming episodes.



Conclusion:

Imaginary Mary has put together a solid and funny cast, very impressive CGI special effects for network television and a nice soundtrack (with artists such as Katy Perry and Alicia Keys). The first two episodes are like mini movies. Jenna Elfman returns to ABC where she had her most success with Dharma & Greg. Her Alice character is very cheerful and a bit wild at times like Dharma. The rest of the cast is very good and works well together. The quality of the CGI animation of Mary is something you would see in a big budget film. This is the year of the live action/animated hybrid with Son of Zorn premiering last fall.

The series will premiere with a special sneak preview on Wednesday before moving to its regular time slot next week on Tuesday nights at 9:30pm. It was a bit concerning that ABC reduced the episode order number in September from 13 episodes to only 9 episodes. It was necessary due to the tweaks they made to the animation, which looks excellent. They really don't overuse the Mary character in that many scenes. There's a good balance between the Alice/Mary and the family scenes. ABC already has a strong lineup of family comedies, so it's hard to tell if this one will be able to develop an audience and find a place on the schedule in the fall. This family comedy should be enjoyable for the next 9 weeks at least. Kids will surely love the animated Mary who sings and dances. I don't know if there will be any stuffed toys, but there could be a market for them if the show becomes a hit. There's something for the entire family with this unique live action/CGI hybrid comedy.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 4/5
Funniness: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, March 29 at 8:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Imaginary Mary Photo Gallery



  • Preview:

    Johnny Galecki

    The Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galecki will appear in and executive produce SciJinks (wt), a new Science Channel series scheduled to premiere in 4th quarter 2017. SciJinks will use cutting-edge science as the foundation for outrageous stunts and practical jokes, creating the smartest prank show on television. The announcement was made today by Marc Etkind, General Manager of Science Channel. Galecki will orchestrate a team of brilliant and inventive scientists drawing from chemistry, physics, technology, engineering and more, with never-before-seen pranks designed to introduce audiences to remarkable and unusual scientific discoveries. Along with Galecki, each of the eight, 30 minute episodes will be guided by scientists, physicists and stem students. Galecki's Alcide Bava Productions and A. Smith & Co. Productions will produce the series.

    With a professional acting career that spans more than 25 years, Johnny Galecki is best known for his role on the hugely popular television series The Big Bang Theory. Galecki has garnered an Emmy(R) and Golden Globe(R) nomination, along with those from the Critic's Choice Awards, People's Choice Awards(R) and five consecutive ensemble nominations by the Screen Actors Guild Awards, among others. Galecki has been in a number of successful roles from Entourage, Hope & Faith, and most notably in the role of David Healey in the sitcom Roseanne. Galecki has been nominated for numerous awards, including the 2015 Critics Choice Television Awards for Best Actor in a Comedy Series in addition to a 2014 Online Film & Television Association (OFTA) Television Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Wednesday, June 26

    grown-ish - "Tweakin'" (Freeform, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Ana and Aaron struggle to define what they each want out of their relationship.

    Younger - "The Unusual Suspect" (TV Land, 10:00PM ET/PT)
    Liza and Charles heat up, but Liza suspects he’s keeping something from her. Millennial gets the scoop on a tell-all from acquitted murderer Audrey Colbert. Kelsey feels undermined by Quinn. Maggie, scarred after Clare’s labor, seeks rehabilitation.

    Just Roll with It - "Blair Gets Grounded" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    When Blair gets into trouble at school, Rachel puts Byron and his radio sidekick "The Gator" in charge of Blair's punishment while Rachel becomes the fun parent with Owen.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of June 24)

    Wednesday, June 26

    • Zendaya (K.C. Undercover/Shake It Up) and Cobie Smulders (Friends from College/How I Met Your Mother) - Watch Zendaya and Cobie on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He also chats with the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
    • Rob Lowe (The Grinder/Parks and Recreation) - Rob appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • Harvey GuillĂ©n (What We Do in the Shadows) - Harvey is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Bill Hader (Barry) - Bill appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Adam Scott (Ghosted/Parks and Recreation/Party Down) - Adam stops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Christina Applegate (Up All Night/Samantha Who?/Married with Children) - Christina stops by LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
    • Kristen Bell (The Good Place), Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie), Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie) and Maya Rudolph Up All Night) - The Ellen DeGeneres Show has her favorite funny ladies, so check your local listings.
    • Suzi Barrett (Just Roll With It) - Suzi talks about Just Roll With It on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
    • Jazz Smollett (On Our Own) - Jazz whips up quick meals to make life easier on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
    • Olivia Munn (Perfect Couples) - Olivia talks about The Rook on People Now at 12pm, on the BUILD Series at 2pm and on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
    • Kelsey Grammer (Frasier/Cheers) - Kelsey chats about Frasier and Cheers on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
    • Michael Rapaport (Atypical/White Famous/The War at Home) - Michael is a guest on Reality Check on People Now.
    • Eve (Eve) - Eve appears on Access Live, so check your local listings.
    • Gabriel Iglesias (Mr. Iglesias/Cristela) - Gabriel talks about Netflix's Mr. Iglesias on Access Live, so check your local listings.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (April/May/June)

    Evening Shade - The Complete Collection Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est TV & Movie Collection Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two

    04/02 - Archer: Danger Island - The Complete Season Nine
    04/09 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fifth Season
    04/12 - Evening Shade - The Complete Collection
    04/16 - The Big C - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    05/07 - Baskets - The Complete Season Three
    05/13 - I'm Dying Up Here - Season 2
    05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One
    05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume Two
    05/14 - The Donna Reed Show - Seasons 1-5
    05/14 - Petticoat Junction - Seasons 1-3
    05/28 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons (WBShop.com)
    05/28 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Second Season (Blu-ray)
    06/04 - The Brady Bunch - 50th Anniversary The Brady-est Brady Bunch TV & Movie Collection
    06/18 - Will & Grace (The Revival) - Season Two (Blu-ray)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    06/26 - Comedy Central Gets Friday Talk Show; The Goldbergs Actress Releases Music Video
    06/25 - Fox Fall 2019 Premiere Dates; FX Sets Dates for Fall 2019 Schedule
    06/24 - Barney Miller Summer Fridays on Antenna TV; Tyler Perry Studios Takes Over BET with New Series
    06/23 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 24, 2019)
    06/22 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Mark-Paul Gosselaar Cast in black-ish Spinoff; Urkel Makes a Return in Scooby Doo
    06/21 - Fri-Yay: The Amazing Superstore Season 4 Finale; Netflix Has Healing Powers
    06/20 - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Returns with "Modern" Twist; Showtime Is Back to Life For New Comedy
    06/19 - truTV Gets 2nd Season of Tacoma FD; I'm Sorry Gets Season 3 on truTV
    06/18 - NBC Fall 2019 Premiere Dates; The CW Fall 2019 Premiere Dates
    06/17 - Netflix Gets Funny with Pranks with Stranger Things Star; Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba Series Gets 2nd Season
    06/16 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 17, 2019)
    06/15 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fall Premiere Dates for CBS; CBS and Viacom in Merger Talks Yet Again
    06/14 - Fri-Yay: Reaction to The Good Place Ending; Antenna TV Brings Back Webster, What's Happening!! and What's Happening Now!!
    06/13 - New Chip 'n' Dale Coming to Disney+ in 2020; Inside the Actors Studio Moves to Ovation and Starts with Sitcom-Themed Show
    06/12 - TBS Celebrates Seinfeld's 30th Anniversary; Netflix Renews Russian Doll for Season 2
    06/11 - Netflix Series Adds Rising Star to New Series; Corporate Gets 3rd and Final Season
    06/10 - Comedy Central Schedules Lights Out with David Spade; NBC's The Good Place to End After Season 4
    06/09 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 10, 2019)
    06/08 - SitcomsOnline Digest: A Sequel for Punky Brewster?; The Good Place Coming to an End After Fourth Season
    06/07 - Fri-Yay: 2019 New Sitcoms; Hulu Acquires Popular Comedy Letterkenny
    06/06 - Comedy Central to Roast Alec Baldwin; Christmas in July on Hallmark
    06/05 - CBS All Access Sets Aug. 15 for Why Women Kill; Dead to Me Gets Second Season

    06/04 - The CW's Late Summer 2019 Schedule; Tracy Morgan Hosts the 2019 ESPYs on ABC
    06/03 - Comedy Central Summer Stunts Include The Cleveland Show; Netflix's GLOW Returns August 9
    06/02 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of June 3, 2019)

    06/01 - SitcomsOnline Digest: ABC Gives Greenlight to Nate Bargatze Comedy Pilot; NBC Cancels Pair of Sitcoms
    05/31 - Fri-Yay: NBC Cancels AP Bio Just As It Was Finding Its Stride; Showtime Orders Work in Progress
    05/30 - Final Space Returns for Season 2 But on Adult Swim; Cast Set for All That Revival on Nickelodeon
    05/29 - HBO's Divorce Starring Sarah Jessica Parker Returns July 1; Jimmy Kimmel Comedy Specials Return for 12th Straight Year Before NBA Finals Games
    05/28 - 2019 The Summer of MeTV Schedule; Disney Gets 2nd Season of Sydney to the Max
    05/27 - Memorial Day 2019 TV Marathons
    05/26 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 27, 2019)