Entertainment Television

Review: TV Land's 'The Exes' lags behind 'Hot in Cleveland'

You know the stars of TV Land’s new sitcom, “The Exes,” from their past hits, including “Seinfeld,” “Scrubs,” “Third Rock from the Sun” and “The Starter Wife.”

Keep those happy memories in mind if you tune in Wednesday. “The Exes” (9:30 p.m. Wednesday, TV Land; 2 stars) is infinitely more entertaining than Fran Drescher’s mediocre “Happily Divorced,” but like that TV Land show it pales in comparison to the network’s “Hot in Cleveland.”

“Cleveland,” by the way, returns Wednesday to unhook us from last season’s cliffhanger in which Elka (Betty White) was about to marry Fred (Buck Henry) when her ex-boyfriend, Max (Carl Reiner), and  Elka's supposedly dead husband, Bobby (Don Rickles), busted up the party. But back to divorce…

In “The Exes,” Kristen Johnston stars as divorce attorney Holly Brooks, who plays den mother to three male clients living in an apartment she owns. (Don’t think too hard about it.)

Ladies’ man Phil (Donald Faison) is moving on from his marriage while couch potato Haskell (Wayne Knight) spends his days posting faked images of himself in exotic locales on his Facebook page to make his ex-wife think he's happy.

In the premiere, Holly arranges for whiny fussbudget Stuart (David Alan Basche) to move in. Still pining for his ex-wife, he soon annoys his new roomies by wanting to overshare.

“What ya thinking?” Stuart asks Phil.
 
“I’m thinking I paid someone half my money to never hear that question again,” Phil snaps.

Like in “Hot in Cleveland,” the jokes in “The Exes” are hit or miss. But when the writing in “Cleveland” isn’t up to par, it comes off better than it should because of the four actresses—White, Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick and Jane Leeves—delivering the dialogue.

Johnston, Faison, Knight and Basche have their moments, but more often than not they hammer the jokes home, mugging insufferably as they do so.

Still, you have to appreciate how hard the stars are working to sell this standard material. And you always have those memories of their past glories.

Now back to “Hot in Cleveland” (9 p.m. Wednesday, TV Land; 3 stars): I did not get a screener for the season premiere, called “Elka’s Choice,” but I did see an upcoming episode that the premiere sets up. In it, Victoria (Malick) gets even more mileage out of her “marriage” to Joy (Leeves) by getting all the roomies on a lesbian cruise captained by the irresistible Gilles Marini. Also guest starring are Laura San Giacomo as Melanie’s (Bertinelli) sister and Sandra Bernhard.

The gang delivers a ton of mostly low-brow laughs, but they’re laughs nonetheless. You could do worse, like “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” on Fox, for instance.

 

Hot in Cleveland
Get More: Hot in Cleveland Video,Photos on the set of Hot in Cleveland,Betty White,Hot in Cleveland Official TV Show Website

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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