Hank, Sid, and Charlie are friends in a retirement home, and they’ve just lost their friend Jerry. They want to celebrate his life, and throw a party, because they’re the “cool kids” in the home, but the rules say no. Enter Margaret, a feisty redhead who wants to take Jerry’s chair, against Hank’s wishes. He wants the chair to remain empty to honour Jerry, but Margaret doesn’t give a diddly whoop about his wishes, she’s taking the chair. Even more so once Hank tries to tell her no. Hilarity ensues.
Or, well, to be honest, a cute series of one liners ensues. The show is trying REALLY hard to be The Golden Girls with three guys and a girl, and the cast isn’t bad. Hank is played by David Alan Grier, and it is hard to believe it’s been almost 30 years since he got his big step up as a relatively young looking black man on In Living Colour at the age of 34. He was on the show for 10 years, and nailed his comic timing and presence in the opening episode. Leslie Jordan, a short character actor, has played small parts in tons of shows over the last 30+ years, and he is a bit odd here as a gay Blanche Dubois clone. When he’s understated on his sexual jokes, he’s great; when he’s freaking out, he’s annoying.
But while David and Leslie are somewhere from good to okay, I am pleased as punch by the other two. Martin Mull plays Charlie (aka Sophia) and has a story about everything from hearts exploding to getting arrested to being discharged from the Navy. It’s hard to believe he is 25+ years past playing Leon on Roseanne, and a whopping 40+ years from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Fernwood Tonight. He looks pretty damn good for being 75 and his delivery is sharp.
However, the real star for the show is Vicki Lawrence as Margaret. For the first 10-15 minutes, she’s an outsider, and doesn’t have much to do other than react to Hank’s stupidity. But then she starts to come into her own, and she’s got the best one-liner of the night (“Did that work? No, so I gave her a sleeping pill and knocked that bitch out.”).
Is the show amazing, best thing ever, Golden Guys and a Girl? No, at least not yet. But we’ll see. I originally predicted RENEWAL, and I’m going to stick with that prediction. It might not gel over the next 8 episodes, but if they can work out some kinks, the show might sing. And there is certainly no end of old stars who could cameo for an episode. Jamie Farr was a nice addition for the pilot, albeit brief.