After an amusing if uninspired pilot episode, I was interested to see where the series would go as it starts to spread it’s wings a little. In its second episode, GCB follows Carlene (Kristin Chenoweth) and her bitch posse as they continue their hate-on for Amanda (Leslie Bibb), which involves bringing their children into the game. Hell hath no fury like Texan women scorned, but Hell hath no annoyance like a bored critic.
I have to start off with the opening of the show. Cheno – as Carlene – recaps all the action for the viewers, but what might have sounded like a good idea in a pitch meeting comes off as corny and grating. It feels like I’m watching the opening of a Jem episode, and that is truly outrageous!..in a bad way (snicker). I understand that the creators are trying to be campy and fun with the tone of the show, but this doesn’t work. I get that the show is based in Texas, but this isn’t an episode of Hee Haw! They need to stick to a classic recap voiceover.
The episode itself centers mostly on two storylines: the first on the relationship between Amanda, her mother, Gigi (Annie Potts), and Amanda’s daughter, Laura (Lauran Irion). I enjoyed the scenes between Bibbs and Potts, they have good chemistry and they do a good job with the material they are given. Gigi is planning a luncheon to reintroduce Amanda to Dallas society but it is cancelled after a bit of sabotage from Carlene and her posse. As for the daughter…well, I really wasn’t very interested in her storyline. Her character is too one-dimensional for me to really be involved in her popular girl drama (Ed’s note: isn’t that what The CW is for?).
The other storyline is Carlene’s revenge on Amanda for outing her as the owner of Booby-licious at a church service. Carlene decides that she will give the restaurant a spiritual makeover by having the waitresses wear what can only be described as Amish-chic. This storyline is more fun because we get to see Cheno as manipulate and backstab while quoting bible verses and it all feels delightfully inappropriate. Carlene is a great character, but I did cringe when her husband Ripp (David James Elliott) undid all of her changes and quoted a bible verse that spoke of the husband as the decision maker (umm…really?). I get that this is a Christian show and it fits with her character, but I still gagged as it was being said.
I do have to single out Miriam Shor as Cricket Caruth-Reilly. She is by far the best thing about this episode, from her ever changing facial expressions (the way she gives Carlene the evil eye in church had me giggling with delight) to her expanding storyline. Of course I have to mention the reveal at the end of the episode that she is, in fact, aware that her husband, Blake (Mark Deklin) is gay. It is a bit of a twist, and one I am excited to see followed through. It really is a wonderfully played scene. And it is the right way to play over-the-top and dramatic. Although Cricket is a great crazy character, this scene shows us a vulnerability that works well to define her character in a more well rounded and beautiful way.
The show juggles its various storylines well and there does seem to be growth with some of the characters, though I still feel like the tone is uneven. It could be because some of the over-the-top elements are not working. Case in point: Sharon Peacham (Jennifer Aspen) trying to seduce her husband Zack (Brad Beyer) with a fried smorgasborg. This whole scene – from Sharon shoving a chicken wing in her cleavage to Zack dismissing her and asking for a carrot – just did not work for me. There is also a scene where Amanda discovers all of her mother’s guns. When she asks Gigi what she’s afraid of, Gigi grabs a huge rifle and responds, “Not a godd*mn thing!” I’ll admit I laughed when I saw the edited version in the promo, but in the episode it plays longer and the joke ends up feeling forced and unnatural.
In last week’s post I referred to Bibbs’ earlier show Popular. Last night’s episode reminded me of it again, but more in context of the second season when that show became a mish mash of over-the-top silliness and serious high school drama. In the end Popular lost the whimsy and charm of it’s first season. GCB definitely has some great elements working for it (Miriam Shor!!) but it needs to tighten up the tone and exploit the wonderful talent that is has or else it’s headed down the same creatively uneven path Popular traveled. We’ll see how things progress as the weeks go on.
Other points on interest:
- I feel like we need to get to know the girls of Booby-licious. Who are these women and why am I supposed to care about them?
- I didn’t mention Heather Cruz (Marisol Nichols) in the recap because her character is so utterly boring. Give the girl something to do, will ya?!
- I really think there needs to be a good old fashioned Dynasty-style catfight to get things going. Let’s toss someone in the mud or into a lily pond or shoot a gun when they’re horseback riding already!
Where you shocked to learn that Cricket is in the know about her husband? Are you just as excited as me to see Annie Potts in primetime again? Are you enjoying the craziness of the show, or wish it could dial the cray-cray down a bit? Let’s discuss in the comments below!