The season's just starting, but looks like we alredy have a strong contender for "Worst Individual Scene." The opening "comedy" sequence of Life With Bonnie is horrible. Really horrible. Everyone's overslept! One of the kids is pretending to be sick! Dad can't find his shoes! Mom's sweather is too tight! The wacky maid is nowhere to be found! Mom falls down while having the kids stretch her sweater! Funny!
I've been hearing for months now that ABC's stated policy for the fall season is to produce an unwavering slate of MOR, thoroughly unoffensive, complete familiar programming, but I wasn't really prepared to see it quite yet. This opening segment makes Dharma and Greg or Mad About You seem edgy and avant-garde. It's trite, clichéd, and extraordinarily unfunny.
Which is why I was very surprised when I found myself laughing out loud five minutes later. After the painful family comedy sequences, we get to see Bonnie (yes, this is one of those shows in which everyone seems to use their real first name) hosting her morning talk show. I read that this show was developed around this premise, and it's really a shame they didn't keep to their initial focus better. The talk show bits, from what I've read, are largely improvised and feel like a talk show gone awry. The guests quickly become drunk; Bonnie makes fun of them; the sidekick disappears. All-in-all, it feels like a good talk show segment. Not one of the vaguely interesting celebrity interviews, but one of the "Johnny laughing at a human figure with an axe in its crotch" bits. It's a good premise, and I'd be perfectly happy to just watch that for a half-hour.
But throughout the genuinely entertaining morning show, they cut back to the family comedy bits. One of the children and his friend are forced by the maid to fold clothing. "I think we're going to be late for school," sez one. "That depends on how good we are at ironing," replies the other. Man, this is painful stuff.
And it doesn't get any better. Instead of sticking with the morning show, we get Bonnie on a date with her husband and a boring doctor couple. She doesn't like socializing with them! They fight! Funny. I suppose bickering counts as entertainment these days (at least juding by the success of Everybody Loves Raymond and its ilk), but this is witless, dull, annoying bickering. Then there's some schmaltz. Just what this show needed.
Overall, the show has promise. One can only hope that post-pilot retooling focused on increasing the improv talk show bits. And perhaps they could remove some of the children. Especially the one that looks like Bruce Davison. Seeing a three foot tall Bruce Davison man-child is not something I need to see on a semi-regular basis.
Rating: C- (1/3 Good, 2/3 Aggressively Bad)Reviewed by Padgett Arango