Let’s face it: summer network TV programming sucks. 

This is usually the time of year when cable and the premium channels thrive and having a Netflix subscription becomes dire. 

Fortunately, it appeared that Betty White’s new TV Land sitcom, Hot In Cleveland might be a promising new option.  

The show’s debut last Wednesday pulled in a TV Land record of 4.75 million viewers, thus making it the most-watched telecast in the network’s history, according to Entertainment Weekly.  

It also debuted to overwhelming positive reviews.  But after watching the pilot last night online, I got the sense that the TV critics may have let their Betty White boners cloud their judgement a bit.  

I think we may need to just accept that not all Betty White shows are created equal. 

Here’s a brief synopsis:

Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli), Joy (Jane Leeves) and Victoria (Wendie Malick) are three best friends from L.A who are on a plane heading for a girls’ getaway in Paris but wind up having to make an emergency landing in Cleveland, OH.

To kill time, they go into a local bar/restaurant where they muster up the courage to order non-light beer and cheese fries (gasp!). They are also feeling extra liberated by three middle-class, average Joe locals who have taken an interest in them despite their age (apparently they’re nothing more than three hideous, fat hags to L.A men). 

Anyway, Melanie--who had just run into her ex-husband and his new twenty-something fiance on the plane--sleeps with one of these guys, decides he’s the man of her dreams and spends her Paris money putting a down payment on a house (with a short-term lease).   

The catch: the house comes with a cranky caretaker who’s been there for 50 years. 

And so Betty enters, calls them “whores” a couple of times, and dishes out a few good old-lady one-liners. Her response when one of the ladies inquire about the stench of weed they smell may  have been the funniest part. 

I do appreciate the show’s girl-power/best-friends-forever message as well as the whole “we’re old, not dead” thing. However, it's ultimately just a Golden Girls rip-off, slightly altered for 2010. 

Plus, I really can’t stand fake “live studio audience” laughs after every trite joke. It makes me cringe. 

 

Final Verdict: will I tune in tomorrow night at 10 p.m? No way. Would I tune in again if TV Land continued to offer free episodes online? Maybe. 

(Note: they’ve already removed the pilot so I’m guessing that’s the end of the free viewing)  

 

Did anyone else watch the pilot? 

 

[Image: imdb.com]

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