Tuesday, January 10, 2012

NBC Mid-Season Pilot Review: Are You There, Chelsea? - Premieres January 11; TCA Winter 2012 Press Tour: ABC


Are You There, Chelsea?

Are You There, Chelsea? - Wednesdays 8:30PM ET/PT on NBC
Premieres Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 8:30PM ET/PT

by skees53

Chelsea Handler has had a hilarious and storied life that she has written about in her best-selling book of autobiographical essays Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, and now, there is a new series on the small screen that is loosely based upon that book. NBC's newest traditional sitcom, Are You There, Chelsea? is Chelsea Handler's sitcom debut, but she isn't debuting as the star. Instead, she takes a backseat as Sloane, her sister, as Laura Prepon takes the starring role of Chelsea Newman.
The sitcom, though, is only loosely based upon the book, and takes the form of a standard sitcom. Set in New Jersey, the series follows Chelsea Newman (Prepon), a young working-class twenty-something, and her friends (and roommates) as they struggle to make it through everyday life. Appearing from time to time are Chelsea's sister, Sloane (Handler) and her father, Melvin (Lenny Clarke).

Cast Details:

* Laura Prepon as Chelsea Newman
* Jake McDorman as Rick
* Lauren Lapkus as Dee Dee
* Lenny Clarke as Melvin
* Ali Wong as Olivia
* Mark Povinelli as Todd
* Chelsea Handler as Sloane

Laura Prepon (Chelsea) plays the starring role of Chelsea Newman in the series. Prepon has appeared in many series including King of the Hill, American Dad!, How I Met Your Mother, Medium, and Castle, but what she is probably best known for is her role as Donna Pinciotti in the long-running sitcom That '70s Show.

Jake McDorman (Rick) plays the role of the bartender who works with Chelsea. McDorman has appeared in starring roles on Quintuplets and Greek.

Lauren Lapkus (Dee Dee) plays the role of Chelsea's more bubbly (and less intelligent) roommate. Lapkus is relatively new to the Hollywood scene, though she has appeared in a small role in the series The Middle.

Lenny Clarke (Melvin) plays the role of Chelsea's somewhat overbearing father. Clarke has previously appeared in series such as Rescue Me, The Job, Brothers, and The John Larroquette Show. Additionally, Clarke starred in his own eponymous sitcom Lenny in the early 90s.

Ali Wong (Olivia) plays the role of Chelsea's Filipino-American roommate. Wong is another relative newcomer to the small screen, with a previous role in the short-lived series Breaking In.

Mark Povinelli (Todd) is the "dwarf" in the series, but his actual disability is that he is color-blind. The 3'9" actor is known primarily as a stunt man, but he has also appeared in series such as Pushing Daisies and Modern Family.

Chelsea Handler (Sloane) plays the role of Chelsea's sister on the series. Of course, the series is based upon Handler's life, but rather than playing herself, she plays the role of her sister as a frequent "special guest star." Handler is primarily known for her stand-up comedy and her books that she has written, but she also hosts the E! series Chelsea Lately. She has had appearances on many sitcoms including Bernie Mac and My Wife and Kids.


Pilot Plot:

For this review, we received a copy of the first two episodes of the series.

"Pilot" (airs January 11)
In the "Pilot" episode, we are introduced to Chelsea Newman, but the introduction isn't a pleasant start. Chelsea has just been arrested for her first DUI, and is waiting for her sister to come to bail her out of jail. Once out, she has lost her driver's license and needs to find a place to live that is close to work, and there just so happens to be one that is just a little over 100 footsteps (she counts them) away. Chelsea moves in to the apartment with two of her friends, and we get a first glimpse into her sex life. Meanwhile, Sloane, whose husband is deployed in Iraq and is depending upon her sister to be there for the birth of her child, worries that Chelsea may be too busy getting drunk and partying to be there.

"Sloane's Ex" (airs January 18)
While at the bar, one of Sloane's ex-boyfriends shows up and just happens to run in to Chelsea. But Matt, the boyfriend, is available, and is free for Chelsea to grab. Naturally, the love between two sisters can (and does) suffer when Chelsea ends up in bed with Matt.


Analysis:

Yes, we have another one of those romance sitcoms, although there is a slight touch of the classic roommate sitcom here as well. But from what I saw in the first two episodes, there seems to be a bit too much of an emphasis on the romantic part. In both of the episodes, we saw Chelsea end up in bed with a romantic interest. That isn't to say that sex scenes should be off-limits for a sitcom (and don't worry, they aren't graphic, they are very PG-13 at worst), but unless it is a show about a Nevada brothel, is it really necessary to include that in both of the first two episodes? The series really needs to work on a bit more substance.

Another issue that I noticed with the pilot (and only the pilot) is that it seemed to bring in various aspects of the entire book that the series is based upon in one episode. Obviously, it is too late to change that now, but the book could have potentially provided many great ideas for scripts and story-lines for the series. But instead, it was all dumped out in one big burst in the pilot, leaving dead-ends for the stories. While I haven't read the book, I am familiar with the stories that are in the book, and many of them would have made great plots that have now been wrecked by just the pilot episode.

I do think, though, that the series COULD be strong if it places more emphasis on the roommate aspect of the series. However, I'm not sure that the roommates that we have here are the best characters to even have. There isn't a whole lot of substance to the roommates, and all I really got out of the first two episodes is that one is Filipino-American and the other is dimwitted. I think that can be changed, though, and perhaps they could even change one (or both) of the roommates. The series has already told so much of the "autobiographical" stuff in the pilot that making changes wouldn't be too serious anyway. The work life at the bar could be interesting too, except my problem with that is that the bar characters were even less exciting.

Conclusion:

While I've seen much better series (and I mean many much better series), I don't feel this series was a bad idea to bring to the air. However, I don't feel that many fans will be pleased with the execution of the series. The pilot really moved through too many plots too fast, and I really hope that the whole series won't be this way. It is hard to tell how successful this series will ultimately be. While Chelsea Handler does have some star power, will people be interested in tuning in to a sitcom that could stand some improvement? Hopefully, the producers will see the need for improvement and actually make some very soon, before this series gets the pink slip. It is very rare that I see a sitcom that really could have some potential that seems to have it destroyed the way this one does.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Watchability: 2/5
Funniness: 2/5
Overall: 2/5

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, January 11 on our message board.

Related Links:

  • NBC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Are You There, Chelsea? Photo Gallery

    Preview:











  • Today ABC is up at the TCA Winter 2012 press tour at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, California and we will recap what has happened there today. After breakfast, we had the all-important ABC Entertainment Executive Session with ABC Entertainment President, Paul Lee. After that session, ABC turned it over to show panels with highly anticipated comedy Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23 up first. On hand were stars Krysten Ritter, Dreama Walker, Liza Lapira, Michael Blaiklock, Eric Andre, James Van Der Beek, and producers Nahnatchka Khan, David Hemingson, and Jeff Morton. That was followed by another high quality pilot in The River, which premieres Feb. 7. On hand are stars Bruce Greenwood, Joe Anderson, Leslie Hope, Eloise Mumford, Paul Blackthorne, Daniel Zacapa, Shaun Parkes, Paulina Gaitan, and producers Michael Green, Oren Peli, Zack Estrin. And the high quality pilots continue with a session for GCB, which premieres March 4. On hand are stars Leslie Bibb, Kristin Chenoweth, Annie Potts, Jennifer Aspen, Miriam Shor, Marisol Nichols, Brad Beyer, David James Elliott, and producer Robert Harling. Then it is lunch time.
    After lunch, ABC will have a session for Wednesday Comedy Showrunners. Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline (The Middle), Emily Kapnek (Suburgatory), Steve Levitan (Modern Family), & David Caspe and Jonathan Groff (Happy Endings). Following that, back to more show panels. First up is Scandal, from Shonda Rhimes. On hand for that are stars Kerry Washington, Henry Ian Cusick, Columbus Short, Darby Stanchfield, Katie Lowes, Guillermo Diaz, Jeff Perry, Tony Goldwyn, and producers Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, and Judy Smith. The final new series panel is for Missing, which premieres March 15. On hand will be stars Ashley Judd & Cliff Curtis, and producers Gregory Poirier, Gina Matthews, and Grant Scharbo. And ending the ABC portion of the tour of course is Desperate Housewives, its final TCA tour. Stars Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria, James Denton, Vanessa Williams, Ricardo Antonio Chavira, & Doug Savant, along with producers Marc Cherry & Bob Daily reminisce and talk about the final batch of episodes.

    ABC will premiere new comedy Don't Trust the B---- In Apartment 23 on Wednesday, April 11 at 9:30pm following Modern Family. The series has a 13 episode order, but it is unclear if all 13 would air. The season finale of Happy Endings will be on April 4. Happy Endings launched last April in a similar manner. ABC has not announced a return date yet for Cougar Town, but they will in a few weeks and will give it a nice launching pad in March. Stay tuned for that!
    In other scheduling news, ABC has scheduled new Shonda Rhimes drama Scandal on Thursday, April 5 at 10pm. The series will air 7 episodes this season and will follow Grey's Anatomy on Thursday nights. As a result of this change, ABC will move Private Practice to Tuesdays at 10pm for its final four episodes of the season from April 24 to May 15. It is unclear what will air Tuesdays at 10pm from March 27 to April 17, as Body of Proof is tentatively ending its season on March 20. Perhaps some Cougar Town special airings? The only other series not yet scheduled is reality series Secret Millionaire, which could be used for summer now.
    There wasn't much else to report, except that Grey's Anatomy and Dancing with the Stars are going to be around for many more seasons. Stay with us in the coming weeks for that Cougar Town premiere date!

    Look ahead: Up tomorrow it will be CBS and on Thursday The CW will end the broadcast portion. On Friday (Jan. 13) thru Sunday (Jan. 15) will be the cable portion. Stay with us for key updates from these events.


    Sitcoms Airing Tonight

    Thursday, October 22

    none scheduled

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 19)

    Thursday, October 22

    • Jay Pharoah (White Famous) - Catch Jay on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Patton Oswalt (A.P. Bio/The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Patton appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
    • Michael Keaton (Report to Murphy/Working Stiffs/All's Fair) - Michael is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
    • Josh Gad (1600 Penn/Back to You) - Josh appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
    • D'Arcy Carden (Barry/The Good Place) - D'Arcy is a guest on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Jane Lynch (Angel from Hell) - Jane will be on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
    • Marlon Wayans (Marlon/The Wayans Bros.) - Marlon appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 10:30pm on Bravo.
    • Kristin Chenoweth (Trial & Error/Kristin) - Kristin is a guest on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Chelsea Handler (Are You There, Chelsea?) - Chelsea will be on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Kim Coles (Living Single) - Kim appears on The Real, so check your local listings.
    • Parvesh Cheena (Connecting.../A to Z/Outsourced) - Parvesh is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
    • Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family/The Class) - Jesse will be on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
    • William Shatner ($h*! My Dad Says) - William appears on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
    • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin talks about hosting The MDA Kevin Hart Kids Telethon on E!'s Daily Pop at 11am.


    New on DVD/Blu-ray (July/August/September/October)

    Will & Grace - The Revival -Season Three - The Farewell Season Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season Mom - The Complete Seventh Season The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season

    07/07 - Will & Grace - The Revival - Season Three - The Farewell Season
    07/21 - Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Complete Tenth Season
    07/21 - The Thundermans - Season 1 / Season 2 / Season 3 / Season 4
    07/21 - The Unicorn - Season One
    07/28 - The Thundermans - Season 1-4 Bundle
    08/04 - Last Man Standing - The Complete Eighth Season
    08/04 - The Neighborhood - Season One
    08/11 - Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens - Season 1
    08/11 - Final Space - The First and Second Seasons (Blu-ray)
    09/01 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Season 14
    09/01 - What We Do in the Shadows - The Complete Second Season
    09/01 - Young Sheldon - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
    09/15 - Mom - The Complete Seventh Season
    09/15 - South Side - Season 1
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Second Season
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Third Season
    09/22 - Brockmire - The Complete Fourth Season
    09/22 - Man with a Plan - Season Three
    09/29 - The Bob Newhart Show - The Complete Series (2020 Release)
    10/13 - The Jetsons - The Complete Series (Diamond Collection)
    10/13 - Our Cartoon President - Season Two
    10/27 - The Flintstones - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
    10/27 - Head of the Class - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
    More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


    Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

    10/21 - MeTV Network Acquires Looney Tunes and More Classic Cartoons; Kaley Cuoco HBO Max Series Announces Nov. 26 Premiere
    10/20 - Antenna TV Officially Announces Returns of The Jeffersons and One Day at a Time; Holiday Movie Reunites Family Matters Siblings
    10/19 - Disney+ Says "Simpsons Forever"; TBS Orders 4th Season of The Last O.G.
    10/18 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 19, 2020)
    10/17 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Fried Green Tomatoes Series Starring Reba McEntire in the Works at NBC; Last Man Standing to End After Nine Seasons
    10/16 - Fri-Yay: COVID-19 Storylines on TV, Will Viewers Watch?; Antenna TV's 70 Episode Jack Benny Marathon for 70th Anniversary
    10/15 - Last Man Standing to Conclude After Season 9 in 2021; CBS Announces Fall 2020 Premiere Dates
    10/14 - TBS Brings Out Halloween Sitcom Episodes on Halloween; Remembering Conchata Ferrell of Two and a Half Men
    10/13 - Freeform's 'Kickoff to Christmas' Schedule; Celebrate 20 Years of Curb on HBO Max
    10/12 - TNT Airing The West Wing Reruns on Fridays; Kate Mulgrew Joins Star Trek Animated Comedy
    10/11 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 12, 2020)
    10/10 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Seinfeld's Newman Returns in PSA to Encourage Mail-In Voting; Showtime Cancels On Becoming a God in Central Florida
    10/09 - Fri-Yay: One Day at a Time Makes Broadcast Debut As a Continuation of the Series' Unlikely Journey; Dickinson Season 2 Premiere Date and Renewal for Season 3
    10/08 - Hallmark Drama Adding Cheers, Happy Days and The Brady Bunch; Chelsea Handler HBO Max Special Gets Date
    10/07 - NBC Fall Pilot Review: Connecting... - Premieres Thursday (Oct. 8); Supernatural Gets Marathons on TNT as Series Finale Airs Nov. 19 on The CW
    10/06 - Cobra Kai Season 3 Premiere Date, 4th Season Renewal; Busy Philipps Joins Peacock Comedy Girls5eva
    10/05 - Apple TV+ Launches The Snoopy Show in 2021; Antenna TV Celebrates 70th Anniversary of The Burns and Allen Show
    10/04 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of October 5, 2020)
    10/03 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Saved by the Bell Reboot Debut Date Set; South Park Pandemic Special a Ratings Hit
    10/02 - Fri-Yay: The Return of Sitcoms: black-ish & Superstore; Bounce Acquires Everybody Hates Chris & Greenleaf
    10/01 - NBC's Young Rock Announces Cast; OWN Gets Digital Comedy
    09/30 - Saved by the Bell Reboot Launching November 25; HBO Orders Weekly Talk Show with Sam Jay
    09/29 - The Addams Family Coming to FETV; Netflix Developing Korean Sitcom
    09/28 - 2002-2007 Sitcom George Lopez Coming to TBS; Guests Announced for black-ish Election Special
    09/27 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of September 28, 2020)
    09/26 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Peacock to Launch All 45 Seasons of Saturday Night Live; Renewal for Family Guy and Bob's Burgers
    09/25 - Fri-Yay: Schitt's Creek Emmy Sweep; HBO Max Orders New Pretty Little Liars
    09/24 - NBC Moves This Is Us, Connecting Premieres; Fox Orders 2 More Seasons for Bob's Burgers & Family Guy
    09/23 - Schitt's Creek Heads to Syndication on Stations and Comedy Central; Apple Orders Patricia Arquette Comedy
    09/22 - Decades Fall 2020 Schedule; CMT Acquires American Housewife
    09/21 - Antenna TV Fall 2020 Schedule, with 2021 Teases; 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards Winners