October 1, 2013

THE SKED Pilot + 1 Review: “Mom”


MOM:  Monday 9:30PM on CBS

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 MOM:  Christy (Anna Faris) is a recovering alcoholic single mom who has to cope with her own no-boundaries recovering addict single mother Bonnie (Allison Janney), as well as teen daughter Violet (Sadie Calvano) and son Roscoe (Blake Garrett Rosenthal).  Christy is just barely holding it together, and her romantic life offers little relief, since it consists of an affair with her married boss Gabriel (Nate Corddry) at the restaurant where she works as a waitress.  In all, it’s not at all the way she once envisioned her life going.

Episode 2:  It was all hands on deck for the first regular episode of Mom, with a script written by Executive Producers/co-creators Chuck Lorre and Eddie Gorodetsky, from a story by the other co-creator, Producer Gemma Baker, along with Executive Producer Nick Bakay.  All of that brainpower was apparently needed to answer the pilot’s cliffhanger and confirm that yes, high-school senior Violet is pregnant by her airhead boyfriend Luke (Spencer Daniels).  How dumb is Luke?  When he finds out that Violet is pregnant, he literally doesn’t understand that it means he’s going to become a father.  (His idea of fun is pressing the “popcorn” button on the microwave to see what happens.)  Jokes about peeing on home pregnancy tests were legion, and the episode never got much better from there.

That’s pretty much the humor level of Mom, which hits the same few marks over and over.  Christy is desperate, Bonnie is shameless, Christy’s ex-husband–Roscoe’s but not Violet’s dad–Baxter (Matt Jones, a footnote to history as Badger on Breaking Bad) is worthless, Luke is clueless.  Everyone thinks Bonnie is wonderful, no matter how many inappropriate things come out of her mouth, while Christy is never taken seriously.  The only breaks in the one-liners are the “awwww” moments when Violet, who is certainly having this baby despite being a senior in high school with an idiot boyfriend  (um, have you met network television?), shows her maternal instincts when she puts Roscoe to bed, and then when she goes for her ultrasound, accompanied by the entire supportive family.  (Corddry and French Stewart, as the chef at the restaurant where Christy works, make just brief appearances in the episode.)

All that saves Mom from terminal mediocrity is the presence of Faris and Janney, both appealing and funny.  Faris is likable even at her most downtrodden, and Janney brings unfailing cheer to Bonnie’s obnoxiousness.  (She spends AA meetings embarrassing her daughter and talking about the men there that she’s slept with and their sexual predilections.)  Other than that, Mom is Chuck Lorre factory stuff–except that in last week’s debut, it didn’t deliver Lorre-level numbers, managing only a 2.5, a number that would cause NBC to faint with happiness but which was very subpar for the CBS/Lorre team.  (In fairness, the lead in Mom got from 2 Broke Girls was also disappointingly low.)   Mom was meant to be a show that could jump into a tougher timeslot as next year’s replacement for How I Met Your Mother or on Thursday nights, and if it can’t reach that level, Christy and family may wish she had that waitressing job to fall back on.


PILOT + 1:  Maybe Not A Long One

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."