Tuesday, February 25, 2014

ABC Midseason Pilot Review: Mixology - Premieres Wednesday, Feb. 26; USA Network's Benched Adds Another Cast Member

Mixology

Mixology - Wednesdays at 9:30PM ET/PT on ABC
Premieres Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 9:30PM ET/PT


by Pavan

One bar. One night. This high-concept comedy from the writers of The Hangover chronicles the misadventures of 10 people in search of love. Or sex. But mostly love. Okay fine, sex. Recently dumped by his fiancée, Tom (Blake Lee) hasn't been out on the town in a decade. His best friends, the handsome, confident Cal (Craig Frank) and wise-ass Bruce (Andrew Santino), are throwing Tom back into the dating pool whether he likes it or not. Tom's first encounter is with Maya (Ginger Gonzaga), an attorney who's as beautiful as she is brutal. Before long, Tom is in tears. But the night is still young and the boys have plenty of people to meet in Mix's chic crowd, including Maya's engaged friend, Liv (Kate Simses), aggressive and sexy single mom Jessica (Alexis Carra), Jessica's gorgeous yet catty frenemy Fabienne (Frankie Shaw), bubbly cocktail waitress Kacey (Vanessa Lengies), hot and mysterious bartender Dominic (Adan Canto), and failed internet entrepreneur Ron (Adam Campbell). As the night unfolds and closing time approaches, some people may get lucky while others are destined to spend the night alone. The question of the season is...who's going home with whom?

Cast Details:
Blake Lee as Tom
Craig Frank as Cal
Andrew Santino as Bruce
Ginger Gonzaga as Maya
Kate Simses as Liv
Alexis Carra as Jessica
Frankie Shaw as Fabienne
Vanessa Lengies as Kacey
Adan Canto as Dominic
Adam Campbell as Ron

Blake Lee (Tom) got his start on the hit series Parks and Recreation where he recurred as a guest star as Derek, April's oddball "boyfriend." His work on the show gave him exposure and led to various other roles in both film and TV. In addition to acting, Blake is currently writing a comedic screenplay with his friend and former Parks and Recreation co-star, Aubrey Plaza.

Craig Frank (Cal) has been pretty blessed to have worked in the industry, working in commercial ads for Nike, McDonalds, Samsung, Lexus, and Coke -- just to name a few. Now, Frank has his big break on this TV series.

Andrew Santino (Bruce) has guest starred on Family Tree on HBO, Children's Hospital on Adult Swim, Arrested Development on Netflix & The Office on NBC. Santino was named Comedy Central's Top 10 Comics to Watch and was most recently seen on Adam Devine's House Party, which aired on Comedy Central. Santino began his career by writing and starring on MTV's final season of PUNK'D.

Ginger Gonzaga (Maya) has guest starred in numerous television shows including CBS's The Millers, Fox's The Finder, and Family Guy, but is most recently known for her recurring role as Jim Jefferies's frustrated girlfriend on FX's critically acclaimed dark comedy Legit. In features, Ginger was seen in the Seth Macfarlane hit summer comedy Ted for Universal, and will next be seen in the indie Someone Marry Barry opposite Ed Helms and Tyler Labine. She has leant her comedy writing skills to Comedy Central for a live touring show starring David Koechner, Abby Elliott and Owen Benjamin, as well as Hulu for their daily series, The Morning After, which she also hosted.

Kate Simses (Liv) began her career with guest spots on shows such as Comedy Central's Important Things with Demetri Martin, and NBC's 30 Rock, Law and Order: SVU, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Her most recent film work includes roles in What's Your Number with Ana Farris and the upcoming That Awkward Moment. Kate has voiced characters on cartoons for Nickelodeon, CBS, and many incredibly angst-y books on tape for teens. She also co-produced and starred in the original web series Sylvia Plath: Girl Detective.

Alexis Carra (Jessica) has been on top Broadway shows including Wicked, Sweet Charity, and Fame on 42nd St. After closing the Broadway show The Pirate Queen, she guest starred on TV series such as Grey's Anatomy, Castle, The Mentalist, and Bones.

Frankie Shaw (Fabienne) most recently appeared on HBO's Hello Ladies, opposite Stephen Merchant, Christine Woods and Kevin Weisman. She recently guest starred on CBS' 2 Broke Girls, opposite Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs. She previously starred in the Spike TV/Lionsgate half-hour series, Blue Mountain State. Shaw will next be seen in the independent film, The Pretty One, for director Jenée LaMarque, opposite Jake Johnson and Zoe Kazan, as well as Andrew Levitas' Lullaby, opposite Garrett Hedlund, Richard Jenkins, Jessica Brow-Findlay, Amy Adams, and Terrence Howard, which screened at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. She recently shot Rob Pearlstein's Someone Marry Barry, opposite her Mixology co-star Ginger Gonzaga, Tyler Labine and Hayes MacArthur. Shaw was also seen in the Wrekin Hill Entertainment film, The End of Love, directed by Mark Webber, opposite Mark Webber, Michael Cera, Amanda Seyfried, and Jason Ritter, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. She also voiced the role of Victoria Primm on the animated PBS show Nate the Great, and has appeared on Law & Order and One Life to Live.

Vanessa Lengies (Kacey) was last seen as Sugar Motta on the hit Fox series Glee. She previously starred opposite Jada Pinkett Smith on the popular TNT series HawthoRNe. Acting professionally since childhood, Lengies began her career working on several popular Canadian TV series such as Are You Afraid of the Dark and Radio Active. Canadian audiences will also remember her as co-host with Elisha Cuthbert on the hugely successful Popular Mechanics for Kids. She made her American series regular debut when she was cast as Roxanne Bojarski on the NBC drama series American Dreams, which portrayed Philadelphia in the era of "American Bandstand." Lengies work on the show won the hearts of audiences across America, made her a household name and earned her a Teen Choice Award nomination. Lengies has also made a name for herself on the big screen with lead roles in audience favorites like Stick It, Waiting and The Perfect Man. She co-starred in My Suicide, which won several best film awards including the Crystal Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Best Feature Film- Generation 14plus.

Adan Canto (Dominic) is an established actor in his native Mexico and has recently made his mark in the U.S. This past January, he made his stateside debut as series regular in the Kevin Williamson drama, The Following, alongside Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy. Additionally, Adan stars in Fox's upcoming X-MEN: Days of Future Past where he plays Sunspot, one of the new mutants.

Adam Campbell (Ron) most recently had a recurring role on the last season of Fox's Touch, playing the corrupt Tony Rigby opposite Lukas Hass and Kiefer Sutherland. Adam's work has included other series regular roles such as CBS's cult-favorite Harper's Island, as well as recurring and guest starring appearances on a number of noteworthy television shows such as 2 Broke Girls, Best Friends Forever, Parenthood, and Up All Night. On the big screen, his credits include The Five Year Engagement and he was the male lead in Fox's spoof films Epic Movie and Date Movie.

Pilot Plot:

We got to watch the first three episodes, so this review will be based on that.

#1. "Tom & Maya" (airs Wednesday, February 26 at 9:30PM ET/PT)

In the premiere episode for the series, recently dumped by his fiancée, Tom hasn't been out on the town in a decade. His best friends, the handsome, confident Cal and wise-ass Bruce, are throwing Tom back into the dating pool whether he likes it or not. Tom's first encounter is with Maya, an attorney who's as beautiful as she is brutal -- before long, Tom is in tears. But the night is still young and the boys have plenty of people to meet in Mix's chic crowd, including Maya's engaged friend, Liv, aggressive and sexy single mom Jessica, Jessica's gorgeous yet catty frenemy Fabienne, bubbly cocktail waitress Kacey, hot and mysterious bartender Dominic and failed internet entrepreneur Ron. As the night unfolds and closing time approaches, some people may get lucky while others are destined to spend the night alone.

"Tom & Maya" was written by written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and directed by Larry Charles.

#2. "Liv & Ron" (airs Wednesday, March 5 at 9:30PM ET/PT)

After a chance meeting outside of the bar, the sweet and innocent Liv is charmed by the sophisticated Brit, Ron, and the two have instant chemistry. Meanwhile, Jessica and her frenemy Fab, start a friendly competition to win the affections of Dominic, the very hot bartender. Tom, Bruce and Cal are still on the hunt for some ladies, and even though Tom is smitten over Maya, he shockingly comes through and takes one for the team.

"Liv & Ron" was written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and directed by Michael McDonald.

#3. "Bruce & Jessica" (airs Wednesday, March 12 at 9:30PM ET/PT)

Bruce is as abrasive as they come and when he sets his eyes on Jessica, a single mom from New Jersey, he thinks she's easy prey. He's very quickly rejected, but he ignores Tom and Cal's advice to abort the mission and he continues to pursue her. Meanwhile, Liv decides to indulge her curiosity with Ron, but that leads to some unexpected trouble.

"Bruce & Jessica" was written by Ira Ungerleider and directed by Adam Davidson.

Analysis:

This is a very unique show. It's something different and out of the box and having watched the first three episodes, I'm hooked. Each episode focuses on two characters and we get to learn quite a lot. I really like character-driven shows and this is a solid one. We have 10 characters on this show and while we don't know much about some of them yet after three episodes, we care enough to stick around. I really like how they focus on a "couple" for each episode but not exclusively to that couple. We get to see how the relationship folds (or unfolds). Like the couples, we enter the night as strangers and are in for the ride. The most funniest characters so far have been the three guy friends - Tom, Bruce and Cal. They bring the funny and so far have been heavily featured in each episode (maybe because 2 of the 3 episodes are theirs so far). They might be the bread and butter of the show because you root for them and laugh with them. You have the classic wimp, the classic goofball and the classic wiseguy.

The rest of the cast is good, too. Vanessa Lengies as Kacey and Ginger Gonzaga as Maya bring the sex appeal, while Kate Simses as Liv brings the innocence. Kate's character reminds me of Soleil Moon-Frye. Gotta love that voice. And for you gals out there, I'm sure you'll love Dominic and Ron. This is a young and hip show, for sure. Without giving away any of the plotlines, some might find unlikely love, some might find true love and some might not find anything...yet. This is a ride you'll want to be a part of, because it's one night and you never know what might happen at the end of the night. You'll be invested and intrigued. And there may or may not be a kiss in episode three. If so, you'll want to see which couple that is!

Conclusion:

This is a solid show. It's not perfect yet, but it is very watchable. There are clever lines that you'll certainly laugh at. There are no pratfalls or gimmicky laughs, so it might not be laugh-out-loud like the typical sitcom, but that's fine. Following Emmy-award winning Modern Family, which is a classic character-driven series, I can see why they would want to air it after that series. Hopefully fans of good writing and good characters will stick around because they might be pleasantly surprised. This series might be finally the hit following that mega sitcom. It's better than the hit or miss Super Fun Night, which relied on gimmicks most of the time. Fans of The Hangover will certainly love this comedy since it comes from the people who made that funny movie.

I watched the pilot and wanted to see more. That's always a good sign of audience engagement. I think it is the characters that made me want to keep watching. Once you watch one, you have to watch the rest. I mean, the show takes place on one night. Don't be a party-pooper and leave the party early after just one sampling. Or don't be late to the party, so tune in tomorrow night at 9:30|8:30c. This is certainly better than the other recent mid-season comedy premieres this month (About a Boy, Growing Up Fisher), so tune in America and see what we mean. Mixology is fun, fresh and will be a new favorite for many. It's like eating potato chips, you can't just have one.

Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

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

Discuss the show after you watch it on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 9:30PM ET/PT on our message board.

Related Links:

  • ABC.com Official Site
  • TV.com
  • epguides.com
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Wikipedia
  • Mixology Photo Gallery

    Preview:






  • Jolene Purdy

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