Hot in Cleveland

Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Valerie Bertinelli spark off one another. Having Betty White is simply the icing on the cake of Nine's new sitcom.

When it comes to sitcoms it helps to have a classic premise.

Hot in Cleveland is classic fish-out-of-water. Three LA women in their prime are on a flight to Paris which is forced to make an emergency landing in Cleveland of all places.

Stuck in the city they discover men. Heterosexual men. Men who pull out the chair for women at the table. Men who date women their own age. Suddenly they have become attractive all over again.

When divorcee Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli) decides she wants to catch her breath in the new city, she takes out a month-by month lease on a property with an outspoken ageing caretaker, Elka (Betty White). Elka gives the girls plenty of worldly advice about men, social graces and coping with life.

The other two girls are Joy (Jane Leeves), a Hollywood beautician who knows all the big female stars “Oprah, Cher, Ryan Seacrest….” and Victoria (Wendie Malick), a vain actress denying her mature years and waiting for her next big gig.

This is a traditional multicam sitcom with laugh track -or at least a generous live audience. Produced for cable channel TV Land it replicates the formats of network comedies.

What makes this work is the calibre of the ensemble. Leeves, Malick and Bertinelli have great comic timing and spark off one another. Having White is simply the icing on the cake. She delivers with unblinking deadpan, turning amusing sitcom lines into even-funnier ones.

Malick’s character echoes Christine Barinski’s self-indulgent pal of Cybill‘s, or possibly hints at what America might have done with their own version of Ab Fab‘s Patsy.

Writer Suzanne Martin has peppered this with lots of gags for girls.

“That’s why the internet was invented. For men to search for naked celebrities and women to cyberstalk men they trust,” says Joy.

Sure, it’s no Golden Girls, but if this show can maintain the energy of the pilot episode, it should slot perfectly into Nine’s schedule for audiences who already enjoy the base comedy of Two and a Half Men.

While this isn’t my preferred style of comedy, I was pleasantly surprised. Does it show?

Hot in Cleveland premieres 8pm Monday on Nine.

22 Responses

  1. I’ve seen four eps already and love it!
    It’s so great to see Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick in a sitcom again and a funny one at that.
    I loved them both in Just Shoot Me and Frasier. I don’t think this is as good as those comedies – just yet – but it shows a lot of potential.
    Lots of sitcoms take time to gel and find their feet – but I think the chemistry between the four female leads is already there.
    Betty White is amazing too. Bertinelli is for me the weak link – I don’t know if it’s her or the character but she’s a bit irritating and forced.

  2. Problem for me, as another person has suggested, the previous roles for these actresses take a bit of removal to really appreciate them in another context. Betty White is Everywhere! Talk about a comeback! Jane Leeves will always be Daphne Moon,with that odd Anglo/American accent of hers, after 2 decades in USA. Wendy Malick is funny but somewhat limited by her look, style. Most viewers under 40 will have never heard of Valerie Bertinelli. The Golden Girls is one of my all time fave programs, so it will be compared at least initially. I will watch this for sure, but it just reeks a little of contrivance and heightened comedy – something that viewers have just been able to get away from after decades of multi camera sitcoms with audience and fake laughs to beef it up. Time will tell

  3. @Tristan It is standard practice for US sitcoms with studio audiences to “sweeten” the laughs by adding a canned track. Watch an episode of HIC and you’ll wonder where the real audience is (that is not to say I didn’t think it was funny, just that the canned laughter is painfully obvious in places). I wonder if the “filmed in front a slive studio audience” line – which hasn’t been used by shows in decades – isn’t there just because it sounds like there isn’t one.

  4. The show definitely has that ‘classic sitcom feel’, a collection of talented actresses, a well-worn premise, and carefully timed zingers. It feels like it’s come straight from the 90’s, and I actually mean that in a good way.

  5. The three best friends in March in Cleveland, waiting to be boring, uneducated city, and their joy, is a fun and amazing with the men who keep them very attractive, and the feeling is mutual. They decide to stay, but then discovered that the guardian appointed Elka (White) enters the house. Elka is a perfect foil for the trio. And all the women in this new “Fab Four” truly amazing!

  6. I watched the first 6 episodes yesterday, and to my suprise, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. It does get a lot better from episode three though. There were a few laugh out loud moments too. After the second or third epsiode I was able to stop seeing Nina Van Horn and Daphne Moon as two of the main cast. Although Malick’s character does remind you of Van Horn at times.

    The reviews I read said that the sets look very cardboard, but really they were fine, nothing like the sets from HeadLand where they were made from paper mache’ and foam.

    One thing to note, this show is filmed and therefore aired in 4:3 SDTV. So please dont complain that Channel Nine is being cheap and not getting the HD version. As shocking as Nine are, it’s not their fauly about this shows format.

  7. Nine’s promo department has made this look absolutely awful, as they do with every show (their promos for The Middle are a case in point), but I’ll probably have a look at the first couple of eps anyway.

  8. I agree the pilot wasn’t the best but the next few eps were better, not sure how it’s going to rate in the Big Bang time slot, to be polite it’s a simpler comedy.

    On a side note the version that aired on TV Land was longer by some 3m30s than the version that aired a few weeks later on CTV in Canada. Which version will we get?

  9. This looks like the best sitcom to come out in years and mostly due to the fabulous Betty White. I like sitcoms that are multicam and with laugh track too, can’t stand those documentary style ones like The Office and Modern Family that annoy the hell out of me. Hopefully it will be at least as good as Big Bang.

  10. I found the pilot unbearable, however subsequent episodes do pick up a bit. Betty White is the real star of the show, along side Wendy Malick.

    When push comes to shove, it’s a typical, zany, idiotic sitcom, ever so slightly better than some of the other rubbish American pumps out (or is that ‘Australia sucks in’).

    If you like that sort of thing, you’ll like this.

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