Case Number 22533: Small Claims Court


Shout! Factory // 2011 // 400 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // October 16th, 2011

The Charge

I guess you're stuck with me.

The Case

The "will they or won't they?"-com is a longtime TV series trope. The answer is usually easy enough to figure out: Of course they will; they almost always, if not always-always, do. In some series, the WToWT? is stretched out over several seasons, with the eventual pairing up capping the series' run. Other series answer it right out of the gate but are able to inject enough complications to keep it going for years (Cheers and Friends come to mind).

In the first half of the first season of Melissa & Joey, the "will they or won't they?" pretty much stayed below the surface. You knew it was lurking there -- throw a couple of attractive people in a situation of enforced domesticity, and it's bound to happen -- but it wasn't the foundation of the show. The rapport was more platonically antagonistic than sexually underpinning.

But now we have Melissa & Joey: Season One, Part Two, and the "will they or won't they?" is trotted out as often as Joe's (evidently) tasty lasagna.

Melissa & Joey is an ABC Family sitcom starring Joey Lawrence (Do You Want to Know a Secret?) as Joe Longo and Melissa Joan Hart (Clarissa Explains It All) as Melissa Burke. She's a slightly flaky councilwoman in Ohio; he's a former finance wiz whose fortunes went south in part because of double dealings involving her sister and brother-in-law. He's now her manny/housekeeper/go-to-guy/etc., helping her raise her teenage niece, Lennox (Tayler Spreitler), and nephew Ryder (Nick Robinson). It's Who's the Boss? for the Justin Bieber generation.

The "will they or won't they?" comes up right out of the gate and rears its head sporadically, usually in conversations between Melissa and her assistant, Stephanie (Lucy DeVito, daughter of Danny and Rhea Perlman). But just as the subject comes up in some episodes and dominates the proceedings -- usually, Melissa hurting or confused over Joe's love life -- it vanishes in others; Melissa even gets a three-episode arc boyfriend. If you're actually following this in any kind of linear way, it's a little schizie.

Not as schizie, though, as it must have been watching these when they aired. According to IMDb, the episodes aired in a different order than the way they're lined up on this disc. Based on Joey's hair, which slowly grows in over the course of season, it looks as though the DVD presents the episodes in the order in which they were filmed. The DVD also messes up the episode titles a bit, with the first three sporting the wrong names -- the first episode has the name of the second, the second has the name of the third, and the third has the name of an episode from the first batch; one of the promo pictures on the inside cover is also from that episode.

Beyond these slight glitches, Melissa & Joey remains good fun, though I don't know that I'd call it good, clean fun. As I noted in my review of the first part of the first season -- and with 12 and 18 episodes respectively being aired eight months apart, I don't know why they didn't just call this Season Two -- this is really not an especially kid-friendly program, with sex jokes abounding and the focus on the adults rather than the teens. The jokes are pretty funny, if frequently predictable, and Lawrence and Hart keep the whole thing going with their considerable charisma. Lawrence's brothers, Matthew and Andrew, turn up in guest roles this season, as does John "Cliff Clavin" Ratzenberger, in a part that seems it could be recurring.

Melissa & Joey: Season One, Part Two's episodes are spread across two discs, and they all look and sound perfectly fine as I'm sure they did when they were broadcast. There are no supplements at all, which is a little odd -- with the show coming back for an actual second season, you'd think they'd use the DVD for a little promotional mileage.

The Verdict

Melissa & Joey isn't groundbreaking TV, but it's funny and charming in its low-impact way.

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2011 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 84

Perp Profile
Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)

* None

Running Time: 400 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb