DVD Review: Talented Cast Deserves Better Than ‘Hot in Cleveland’

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CHICAGO – Who would have guessed that the network to jump on the Betty White phenomenon (and who would have guessed that would ever be a viable phrase) would be TV Land? It makes a certain kind of twisted sense that a sitcom featuring stars who made it big on other shows would reunite on network built around reruns but “Hot in Cleveland” should have and could have been much better and one wonders if it wasn’t fate but that no one else would have this lackluster comedy.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 2.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 2.5/5.0

The highest-rated program in the history of TV Land ran ten episodes in the summer of 2010 and became one of the season’s most-surprising hits. The pedigree is remarkable. Creator Suzanne Martin worked on “Frasier” and “Ellen,” Executive Producer Sean Hayes (“Will & Grace”) is an Emmy winner, and the cast is ludicrously-talented with all three of the leading ladies (and supporting regular White) having at least one former TV hit under her belt. One would think that such an all-star team of talent could mine this premise for bigger laughs.

Hot in Cleveland: Season One was released on DVD on January 11th, 2011
Hot in Cleveland: Season One was released on DVD on January 11th, 2011
Photo credit: Paramount Home Video

The concept is simple, but so have been many of the greatest comedies of all time, so that’s not the problem. Valerie Bertinelli of “One Day at a Time,” Jane Leeves of “Frasier,” and Wendie Malick of “Just Shoot Me,” star as a trio of best friends from Los Angeles who unexpectedly find themselves in Cleveland, where they’re no longer surrounded by wannabe actresses and retired models. The joke is that the three women who are seen as over-the-hill in the city of angels are suddenly “Hot in Cleveland” and so they decide to stay in a house run by the cantankerous White.

The four ladies have great comic timing. There’s no denying that. But casting is only half the battle. They need quality writing to produce something entertaining and that’s just not happening here. I kept giving “Hot in Cleveland” another chance, figuring that something would click and the writers would leave behind the two-dimensional cliches to find something genuinely funny. It never happens. As mediocre as “Just Shoot Me” could sometimes be, it looks like “Cheers” compared to this show. There are times when the pure talent on-screen can make the show reasonably entertaining but it never rises above that faint praise.

Special Features:
o Original Full-Length Pilot Episode
o How’d They Get So Hot? Wardrobe on the Set
o We Love Our Age!
o Set Tour
o Bloopers
o Victoria’s Full-Length Japanes “Lady Pants” Commercial
o Pilot Episode of TV Land’s New Sitcom “Retired at 35”

“Hot in Cleveland: Season One” stars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, and Betty White. It was created by Suzanne Martin. It was released on January 11th, 2011 and runs 215 minutes.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

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