March 6, 2014

THE SKED Pilot + 1 Review: “Mixology”


MIXOLOGY:  Wednesday 9:30PM on ABC

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 THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.

Previously… on MIXOLOGY:  On one night, in one bar, ten people variously search for romance or its temporary facsimile through the course of the season’s run.  We were briefly introduced to most of them last week, but the pilot concentrated on Tom (Blake Lee), a likably dweeby guy who’d just been dumped by his longtime girlfriend, and Maya (Ginger Gonzaga), a hard-as-nails lawyer who unaccountably found herself a little charmed by Tom.

Episode 2:  We learned some more about how the somewhat unusual structure of Mixology will work.  The final scene of the pilot was repeated as the first scene of this week’s episode, setting up Liv (Kate Simses) and Ron (Adam Campbell), as the focus of the half-hour.  Liv has come to the bar as Maya’s pal, but tempermentally she’s a lot more like Tom, a woman who’s always played it safe, most recently by becoming engaged to a man (not at the bar) who doesn’t make her heart go pitter-pat.  Ron, a charming British rotter whose con job of an internet company went bust earlier that day, taking his stable of lovely ladies with it, may be what Liv needs.

Meanwhile, we did see more of Tom, serving as wingman to his friends Cal (Craig Frank) and Bruce (Andrew Santino)–and since Bruce had the last (pre-tag) scene this week, with single mom Jessica (Alexis Carra), presumably they’ll be the center of next week’s episode.  We also met the last regular character, Jessica’s mean girl childhood friend Fab (Frankie Shaw).  Last week, Jessica was hanging out with her sister Janey (Sarah Bolger)–in the course of the episode Ron threw up in Jessica’s purse–but Bolger was absent from both the episode and the credits this time, so it’s not clear what her status is.

Series creators Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who wrote the episode (directed by Michael McDonald), do a smooth job of handling the complicated traffic of so many characters moving through overlapping territory, a tough technical feat.  The downside is that having only half an hour (minus commercials) to handle one main story and bits of others, with characters we don’t know well and won’t see as prominently again, at least for a while, can easily lead to superficiality and repetitiveness, and even in the show’s second episode, there were signs of that, as Liv’s backstory echoed Tom’s, and our knowledge of last week’s Tom and Maya didn’t get any deeper.  At some point it’s going to get frustrating if the narrative only moves sideways and never forward.  With so much exposition necessary for each new sequence, there’s also a certain lack of laughter–Lucas and Moore’s go-to for yucks seem to be the sub-Apatow pick-up strategies of Cal and Bruce, who are likely to wear thin very quickly.

Still, compared to the other new sitcoms ABC and its brethren have been putting on the air since September, at least Mixology is trying to do something different, and it’s a very breezy half-hour.  That didn’t help it with viewers last week, who sank Mixology to little more than half of its Modern Family lead-in.  The show is, at the very least, far better than its Wednesday predecessor Super Fun Night, and despite the possibility that its shortcomings will only deepen as it moves along, it’s one of the more diverting hew comedies of the season.


PILOT + 1:  It Helps If You’re Wearing Bad Sitcom Goggles


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."