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, October 21

    The Goldbergs - "Airplane!" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Beverly surprises the family with an end-of-summer vacation to Miami with the flight down resembling the classic film, and Geoff accidentally spills to Erica the real reason for the trip.

    The Goldbergs - "The Prettiest Boy in School" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Adam, now a senior, returns to William Penn Academy as he wrestles with the fact that he is a cool kid and no longer a nerd while his original friend group isn’t as lucky. Meanwhile, Beverly attempts to have a more grown-up relationship with Erica and Barry before they head back to college.

    The Conners - "Keep on Truckin' Six Feet Apart" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
    The Conners are back and dealing with the pandemic, and life’s financial troubles loom over the family. Dan is still trying to catch up on back-mortgage payments and avoid a potential eviction, while the Lunch Box is closed for everything but takeout and delivery. Becky and Darlene are both forced to search for additional income at the newly reopened Wellman Plastics plant.

    black-ish - "Hero Pizza" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
    The season premiere of “black-ish” takes us to the beginning of the global pandemic for the Johnsons. As a first responder, Bow receives her family’s praise for her work, with Junior being her biggest fan. But over time, the family loses their enthusiasm, and Bow discovers someone in her house is breaking the quarantine lockdown rules. Meanwhile, Dre tries to convince everyone that he too is an essential worker.

    Tyler Perry's House of Payne - "Moving On" (BET, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    House of Payne is the hilarious comedy about Retired fire chief Curtis Payne and his lovely wife Ella. Together the loving couple navigate the problems of life with their quirky modern day family.

    Tyler Perry's Assisted Living - "Mary Jane" (BET, 8:30PM ET/PT)
    Leah learns that Mr. Brown has cut down Vinny's plants in the back yard.

    Family Time - "Somebody's Watching Me" (Bounce TV, 8:00PM ET/PT)
    Tony and Donnie spy on Ebony and her new boyfriend; Lori is recruited to be the face of hair care.

    Complete TV Listings


    Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 19)

    Wednesday, October 21

    • Tracee Ellis Ross (black-ish/Girlfriends) - Watch Tracee on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. She will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
    • Eric Andre (Man Seeking Woman/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - Eric appears on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
    • Eva Longoria (Telenovela) - Eva will be on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
    • Susan Kelechi Watson (Louie) - Susan is a guest on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) - Tig will be on a repeat of A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
    • Sara Gilbert (The Conners/Living Biblically/Bad Teacher/Welcome to New York/Roseanne) - Sara appears on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
    • Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) - Sarah is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
    • Marlon Wayans (Marlon/The Wayans Bros.) - Marlon talks about On the Rocks on The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
    • Lauren Ash (Superstore/Super Fun Night) - Lauren appears on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
    • Brandy (Zoe Ever After/The Game/Moesha/Thea) - Brandy talks about her struggle with depression, new music and what's next on Tamron Hall, so check your local listings.
    • Michelle Buteaun (First Wives Club) - Michelle talks about raising twins, relocating to London with her family to tape next season of her hit show The Circle, her new book and more on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
    • Cedric the Entertainer (The Neighborhood/The Last O.G./The Soul Man/The Steve Harvey Show) - Cedric talks about CBS's The Greatest #AtHomeVideos on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
    • Tim Robbins (The Brink) - Tim talks about the Bobbo Supreme podcast on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
    • Teri Polo (I'm with Her/Man Up!) and Blythe Danner (Adam's Rib/Tattingers) - Teri, Blythe and the cast of Meet the Parents reunite on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am.
    • Jane Lynch (Angel from Hell) - Jane talks about Weakest Link on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


    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