Kaitlin Olson is funny and charismatic, but she is not a miracle worker.
FOX’s new comedy “The Mick” makes its official, time period debut this Tuesday.
Not content to hope viewers find the show on their own, FOX is airing the premiere in the post-football slot (~8PM) Sunday night.
The move should secure “The Mick” a big initial audience, but it hard to imagine a significant amount of those viewers sticking with the show over the long haul.
Across the four episodes screened for critics, it is clear that “The Mick” is a middling, uninspired effort. Its physical comedy is never as “shocking” (let alone funny) as intended. Its lines are devoid of wit and cleverness.
Star Kaitlin Olson is entertaining in the lead role, but she is asked to do far too much. The “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” actress essentially needs to play Dennis, Mac and Charlie in addition to Dee — and derive laughs from far weaker writing. The supporting cast is not strong enough, and the material is not good enough.
Is this the worst way to spend a half hour? No. But it is absolutely not the best way.
The plot: Mickey (Kaitlin Olson) is irresponsible, unmotivated and devoid of etiquette, grace and a filter. She is fun, but in the “trainwreck” sense. She is smart and savvy, but those traits rarely shine through her unkempt exterior.
As the premiere opens, Mickey accepts a party invitation from her estranged sister and billionaire brother-in-law. Her motivation is not, however, to rekindle the relationship. It is to secure a handout.
Her effort takes an unexpected turn when her sister and brother-in-law flee the country to avoid FBI custody. Mickey is left to watch their three children.
On the one hand, she gets to live in the luxurious estate — a far cry, as we’ll see in episode two, from her own situation in Rhode Island. On the other hand, she is now responsible for “parenting” their children — college-bound daughter (and faux-rebel and free-thinker) Sabrina (Sofia Black D’Elia), smarmy teenager Chip (Thomas Barbucsa) and young, naive, erratic nerd Ben (Jack Stanton).
She also develops a relationship with Alba (Carla Jimenez), the maid who feels liberated (perhaps too much so) in the wake of her employers’ departure. Jimmy (Scott MacArthur), Mickey’s thoroughly unrefined “guy” (don’t call him a boyfriend), also eventually moves into the estate.
Shenigans, predictably, ensue. Tension, predictably, ensues. But, as you’ve surely guessed, both Mickey and the children start to benefit and grow as a result of the new situation.
Why watch: “The Mick” is a pleasant, reasonably entertaining diversion. It may not be hysterical, but it is not as egregiously unfunny as many other network sitcoms.
The stories are basic at their core, but they include a roughness not often seen in the innocuous world of network comedies. It is not as edgy as a cable drama, but the writers and actors are at least trying to give “The Mick” a unique voice — with a unique bite.
Kaitlin Olson, moreover, is a solid lead. She does not single-handedly turn the show into something great, but those who appreciate her work on shows like “It’s Always Sunny” will enjoy her energetic, fairly dynamic turn on “The Mick.”
Why skip: It, first and foremost, is a comedy that is not especially funny. Four episodes were screened for critics, and not one produced a laugh-out-loud moment or even a witty line worth quoting. It’s a “smile” or “chuckle” sort of show.
As talented as she is, Olson is not a miracle worker: she cannot completely carry the show. No other cast member is reliably funny or magnetic (Barbucsa is the only one who really comes close), and the mediocre writing does her no favors.
It does even less favors for the other characters. The actors and actresses generally read their lines well enough, but the lines they’re reading are not as funny as they need to be. Worse, they are not as consistent or “human” as they need to be. “Character” seems to be a consequence rather than a cause of each episode’s particular situation.
Olson’s character is not the most brilliantly written in the history of television, but she has the presence to make Mickey seem like a somewhat realistic, multi-dimensional person. The other cast members generally do not.
The writers have provided the supporting actors with “types” — and that is generally what they deliver on screen.
It would be wrong to call the show and its stories “cliche,” but everything is still fairly familiar. In the first four episodes, we encounter stories involving a mean grandparent, Sabrina’s rebellious attitude regarding her new boyfriend, and a birthday party gone awry. The stories are a bit edgier than is typical: the grandmother is meaner than one might expect from a family-oriented comedy, the rebellious attitude is more overtly sexual than one might expect, the birthday party incident involves more suspected drug use than one might expect. They also tend to resolve differently somewhat differently than is typical. The territory, nonetheless, still feels pretty inhabited.
With “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “New Girl” markedly declining in quality this season, “The Mick” is not necessarily a black mark on FOX’s schedule. But it is not a shining star either.
“The Mick” premieres at ~8PM ET Sunday night before moving to its regular timeslot at 8:30PM ET this Tuesday.