September 24, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Pilot + 1 Review: “The Mysteries of Laura”



A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot and the production of regular episodes: writer/producers may be hired or fired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics start to rear their ugly heads. Tone, pace, casting, and even story can change. Here at SHOWBUZZDAILY, we look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA:  Laura Diamond (Debra Messing) is the mother of obstreperous twins, and the estranged wife of adulterous Jake (Josh Lucas).  She’s also–get this!–a NYPD homicide detective, who solves murders between arranging playdates and keeping her kids in private school, and coping with her ex’s irresponsibility.  She has a supportive partner on the force in Billy Soto (Laz Alonso), but at the conclusion of the pilot, her life became more complicated when Jake, a fellow cop, was appointed Captain at her precinct.

Episode 2:  The Mysteries of Laura was far and away the worst pilot of the fall season, and nothing about its second hour, written by US series developer Jeff Rake (it’s based on a Spanish series) and directed by McG, suggests that any improvement is on the way.  The only interesting thing about Episode 2, compared to the pilot, is for all the concentration in the pilot on Laura being a mommy cop, her kids barely made an appearance during the second hour, although they’re at least implicated in her eye-rollingly foreshadowed decision to hire the big-mouthed (but harmless) political activist imprisoned at the precinct as their new babysitter.

That left the focus of the episode squarely on the murder mystery, and it was as dreadful as the pilot’s plot.  The victim was a middle-aged divorcee who was using an online dating service, so cue multitudes of gags about Laura herself joining the service to pose as bait and dismissing all the men she met as both potential killers and romantic interests.  The identity of the killer was random, and although Laura professes to be a female-centric show, just as the pilot found a way to put Debra Messing in a bathing suit, this hour made sure to have her in a low-cut dress for jokes about where the “bases” are in dating these days and showing off her cleavage.  At least this was a change of pace, though, from the evening’s running gag about the gay precinct employee who was just thrilled that Jake had brought a fancy coffee-maker to the office (even though he only drinks the foam), and how much he loves Jake (but not that way), even though Jake can’t remember his name.

The script was, truly, an embarrassment.  Messing, front and center almost constantly, leaned heavily once again on her presumed adorability, as she wreaked petty revenge on anyone who displeased her and mugged so much along the way that it was a momentary relief when Lucas and Alonso had a scene without her, not that it went anywhere.  It’s apparently going to be a continuing storyline that Jake is desperate to win Laura back, and it’s incomprehensible because Laura isn’t just unbelievable as a cop or a mother–she’s not even conceivable as a human being.

Mysteries of Laura did OK in a special airing last week after the finale of America’s Got Talent, and in truth, it’s so doddering that it could pair up reasonably well with the waning SVU (which also now features a female detective with a child, as though the notion were one of the wonders of the world).  Although the show will surely skew very old, NBC may have decided that it’s acceptable; certainly Laura, as bad as it is, makes more sense on paper with the night’s other two procedurals (Chicago PD follows SVU) than Revolution did last season.  In terms of quality, though, the mystery of Laura is how its pilot script ever got past its first read by a network development executive.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  Change the Channel

PILOT + 1:  Pins In the Eyes Would Be A Pleasant Alternative



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."