February 26, 2014



MIXOLOGY:  Wednesday 9:30PM on ABC – Worth A Look

MIXOLOGY is the most ambitious of ABC’s new comedies, although “ambitious” in this case means resembling one of those omnibus rom-com movies that simultaneously tell half a dozen stories, all turning out to be tangentially related to each other.  At its best, that subgenre is Love, Actually; at its worst, it’s the Garry Marshall holiday horror of Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve.  It’s hard to get a read on where Mixology stands in that line, since a 22-minute pilot barely provides more than an introduction to all the major characters, but at least it’s not another sitcom about an adult forced to live with his/her maddening parents, or a nostalgia-fest about how heartwarming and inspiring those maddening parents were to grow up with.

Writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore are the pair that came up with The Hangover, and they enjoy their structural gimmicks (Four Christmases and The Change-Up are also theirs).  In this case, the entire season will take place within a single bar on a single night, with eleven protagonists circling around one another and gradually forming couples, presumably in surprising ways.  In addition, based on the pilot it appears that each episode will focus on one pair of the main characters, with the others in supporting positions.  The pilot’s leads are Tom (Blake Lee) and Maya (Ginger Gonzaga), each of whom get brief backstories to explain why he’s a wuss whose fiancee just left him, and she’s a macho lawyer who reduces every boyfriend, even Keyshawn Johnson, to tears.  In the course of the half-hour, he makes what should be a disastrous attempt to pick her up, but something about his pathetic niceness strikes a chord with her.  Meanwhile, we’re quickly introduced to the rest of the cast members:  desperate-to-date single mom Jessica (Alexis Carra); her nice-girl sister Janey (Sarah Bolger); ruined tycoon Ron (Adam Campbell), who’s been courting Jessica online but makes a bad first impression in person; Tom’s two best friends Bruce (Andrew Santino) and Cal (Craig Frank); douchebag bartender Dominic (Adam Canto) and his latest conquest, waitress Kacey (Vanessa Lengies); and Liv (Kate Simses), Maya’s co-worker and friend.

Nothing that happens in Mixology is terribly fresh, and the show badly wishes it were an R-rated movie or paycable comedy, especially when Tom’s pals are giving him terrible dating advice, an extended part of the pilot that falls flat because Judd Apatow-ish schtick needs some dirty words and political incorrectness in order to fly.  Nevertheless, the idea here is that if there’s enough going on and it’s all paced quickly enough, the result will be breezy and painless, and that’s sort of true.  More than most sitcoms, this one needed a director with command of pace and ability to marshall varied comic styles, and the pilot is well-handled by Larry Charles, who has many episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm (as well as Borat and Sacha Baron Cohen’s other features) to his credit.  There are no obvious standouts in the cast at this point, but no particular weak spots, either.

Mixology is far more promising than ABC’s other singles comedy of the season, the probably-dead Super Fun Night, which it follows into the post-Modern Family timeslot.  If ABC can keep the show buoyant, Mixology could be a fun, if long and complicated, evening.



About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."