Sunday, 11 April 2021

‘Call Your Mother’ and ‘The Chase’ new to ABC lineup



‘CALL YOUR MOTHER’ ON ABC

The new ABC sitcom “Call Your Mother” stars Kyra Sedgwick as an overbearing mom so concerned about not hearing from her adult son for four days that if she were piloting a helicopter from Iowa to Los Angeles to drop in on her child it would have seemed fitting.

As a widowed single mother who raised two millennial children, Jean wonders how she ended-up alone while Freddie (Joey Bragg) and his older sister Jackie (Rachel Sennott) moved to the carefree paradise of California.

Fretting that an endless stream of phone calls to her son go answered, Jean jumps on a plane to Los Angeles and barges in on Freddie at his apartment just at the moment he’s cuddling with vacuous social media influencer Celia (Emma Caymares).

That mom’s unannounced visit is not greeted with enthusiasm is an understatement, even if she came bearing gifts of socks and Freddie’s favorite toilet paper. If there’s a joke with these presents, it fails to connect, much like misfiring punchlines.

Then there’s Jackie, who not only is aghast at mom’s arrival but has not been on speaking terms with her brother for reasons not immediately clear but may be related to a mother’s meddling contributing to a dysfunctional family dynamic.

However, both Jackie and Freddie, though maybe not equal in the eyes of their mother, are relatively excitable persons not able to appreciate Jean’s “we are a village” speech when gathered at mom’s place.

As one who says her sex life has been nonexistent for years, Jean may soon find romantic comfort with her landlord Danny (Patrick Brammall), a newly-divorced therapist who may need counseling for his oversharing about his wife’s infidelity.

That the lovable golden retriever Ripper, belonging to the owner of the guest house rented by Jean, proves to be the most winning character in the series does not bode well for the future of the formulaic “Call Your Mother.”

After all, the cute canine does not have any lines of dialogue to spice up the mostly flat humor delivered by the two-legged actors. Maybe it’s time to call in new writers if there is a chance to salvage a series that sputters right out of the gate.

To be fair, only one episode of “Call Your Mother” was available to review, but the characters need to be more than one-dimensional, though Austin Crute, as Jackie’s gay roommate Lane, shines with his off-beat demeanor.

‘THE CHASE’ ON ABC

Watching an episode of the new, at least on network television, game show “The Chase” was purely accidental, and then it dawned on me that I had already seen this TV series in a foreign land.

While on the treadmill at a London hotel in 2019, I became engrossed with “The Chase,” where the host was some guy they called “The Beast,” and not just for his physical size but for the fact he was a quiz genius that relished pummeling the contestants.

For the episode I watched on ABC, “Jeopardy” champion Ken Jennings, the all-time greatest winner now serving in the position of the Chaser that three contestants must outperform in answering trivia questions, comes off like the irritating brainy kid in school.

Not only is Jennings going to match his British cousin as a trivia bully, two other “Jeopardy” champions, namely Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer, will alternate as Chasers.
Meanwhile, the Chasers-in-waiting sit in a lounge and occasionally lob a few snarky remarks.

The game show is gimmicky in that each contestant participates in a one-minute lightning round to bank money for their team before being positioned at the bottom of a huge angled game board where the Chaser looms above in a most intimidating manner.

The money earned in the lightning round is placed on the game board and each contestant must answer multiple-choice questions correctly to move the money down into the bank while trying to stay ahead of the Chaser who has to answer the same questions.

If the Chaser overtakes a contestant, that player is out of the game and the only chance for the other players to have a shot of winning any money is, as expected, to beat the Chaser to the bank during their turn.

But that’s not the end of the line. There’s the “Final Chase” where the surviving players now act as a team to beat the Chaser in a more convoluted round that does up the ante for tension and excitement.

The fun part of game shows that test trivia knowledge was never more evident than during the reign of Alex Trebek as the genial host of “Jeopardy.” Viewers at home could blurt out their own responses in the form of a question and feel like actual contestants.

Attempting to answer questions in “The Chase” offers vicarious thrills when you get something right that the host failed to do, especially if you best the smug Ken Jennings who will never be as likable as Alex Trebek, at least in my opinion.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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