and Paul Chi
September 30, 2013 12:00 PM

Trophy Wife

ABC, Sept. 24, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT |

COMEDY

Trophy Wife is no prize—the pilot is swamped with exposition recited in the girlishly thin voice of star Malin Akerman—yet there’s enough of a comedic brain and cast at work here that some additional polishing might do the trick. Akerman plays Kate, the very young, very pretty third wife of Pete (Bradley Whitford). She’s thrown into a complicated extended family that includes a number of children and two wildly different ex-wives: a formidable and reserved doctor (Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden) and a neurotic ninny (Michaela Watkins, best known from Saturday Night Live). Harden and Watkins are both acting to their strengths—Watkins is especially good during a panicked, flighty escapade involving a dead hamster. Akerman, at the moment, is the problem: She projects a naive, fundamental good humor, but that isn’t necessarily a comic intelligence. (The sun may be bright, but it doesn’t know it’s sunny.) Her character needs some degree of recalibration—otherwise she doesn’t seem to be in on the joke. When Akerman can be handed a dead hamster and get laughs, we’ll have hit the sweet spot.

The Golbergs

ABC, Sept. 24, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

COMEDY

The premiere episode of this new ABC sitcom is a bit too comfortable with itself—as if a viewer couldn’t resist scooching over to make room for a warm, boisterous suburban family who’d wandered in from the 1980s. It is nice but overly familiar in its reliance on pop-culture signposts and snuggly sentimentality. The one thing to celebrate is Wendi McLendon-Covey as the mother. This unsung comic actress, a master of vulgar deadpan on Reno 911! and in Bridesmaids, plays a big-haired, big-hearted woman full of ripe bluster and affection. She’s gold.

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