TV Review: 'Jennifer Falls' feels like comfort fare


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TV Land grows up a little while maintaining its original series game plan with its first single-camera comedy, “Jennifer Falls” (10:30 tonight, TV Land).

There’s nothing particularly novel about the show’s premise – successful businesswoman moves back home to live with her mom – or the cast – two refugees from “My Name Is Earl” and Jessica Walter of “Arrested Development” playing another judgmental mother – and that allows TV Land to stick to its formula.

Just as TV Land began making multi-camera comedies (“Hot in Cleveland,” “The Exes”) that would have been at home on a broadcast network in the late ’80s or early ’90s, its first single-camera comedy would have been a perfect fit for Fox or NBC in the late ’90s, early 2000s.

‘Jennifer Falls’
When: 10:30 tonight, TV Land.
Starring: Jaime Pressly, Jessica Walter.

“Jennifer Falls” offers a slightly more sophisticated style of storytelling with familiar enough trappings to go down easy for recent nostalgia buffs.

Jaime Pressly (“My Name Is Earl”) stars as Jennifer Doyle, a high-powered business executive fired from her job because of a “personality problem.” She’s too aggressive.

“All the men in the industry find me terrifying, and all the women find me inspiring … and terrifying,” Jennifer says in direct address to the camera (another throwback to a time when breaking the fourth wall was new and different).

So Jennifer moves back home to live with her psychologist mother (Ms. Walter) and work for her bar-owner brother (Ethan Suplee, “My Name Is Earl”).

Writer/creator Matthew Carlson (“Malcolm in the Middle,” “Mr. Sunshine”) brings some funny, surprising dialogue to “Jennifer Falls” (“All the assistants are creeped-out by your rapey backrubs,” Jennifer tells her boss once she has been fired) that’s delivered well by this veteran cast of performers.

Some of the best moments involve confrontations between Jennifer and her mother or between Jennifer and her passive-aggressive sister-in-law (scene-stealer Nora Kirkpatrick, “Greek”).

Mom offers Jennifer therapy for free in exchange for “maybe a little yard work, just some light weeding.”

For viewers who find comfort in the familiar, TV Land happily offers more of the same with “Jennifer Falls,” but it’s a slightly higher caliber more of the same than the network’s past efforts.


A version of this review first appeared in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. TV writer Rob Owen: rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.

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