TV: Hot in Cleveland

Primarily because it features actresses from some of my favorite TV sitcoms, I decided to check out the first season of TV Land’s first scripted situation comedy, Hot in Cleveland, on DVD. I don’t find much on TV (other than Turner Classic Movies) to like, so this original half-hour cable series, already approved for a third season, is a pleasant surprise.

When three working women friends from Los Angeles crash land in Cleveland, Ohio, during a trip to Paris, they end up in a bar where men find them attractive and people seem less affected and pretentious than they do in L.A. So, they decide to stay. The culture clash continues to fuel the comedy thereafter in this entertaining new show created and produced by those who made NBC’s classic 1990s’ sitcom, Frasier, which is the last comedy I watched regularly on TV.

Here, we have Hot in Cleveland‘s moral center, Melanie, Mel for short, played perfectly as usual by all-American Valerie Bertinelli (Barbara Cooper on One Day at a Time), a divorced writer who leads the trio towards a post-40s fresh start in the Midwest, Joy (Jane Leeves, Daphne Moon on Frasier) a Beverly Hills eyebrow stylist, Victoria (Wendie Malick, Nina Van Horn on Just Shoot Me!), a five-time divorcee soap opera actress, and their rental property’s caretaker, Elka (Betty White, Rose on The Golden Girls). Elka gets the best lines, digging at acerbic Joy, and Malick basically plays the same narcissist she did on Just Shoot Me! But Bertinelli pulls everything together as a benevolent but bold mid-lifer who makes an effort to listen, be a good friend, and remake herself in Cleveland. Renewal is the theme for fall, making Hot in Cleveland, which,¬†contrary to some reviews, is more like Frasier in its goodness than it is like Golden Girls in cattiness, a good pick for home entertainment. Coming soon: a review of the second season of Glee, due on DVD tomorrow.

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