Judge Brett Cullum wants to be this hot when he's 90, or even right now.
Betty White and three new golden girls live it up in Drew Carey's Ohio.
I don't think anybody predicted Hot in Cleveland would be as big as it turned out to be right from the airing of the pilot episode. Luckily for the show, just before the premiere Betty White hosted Saturday Night Live to great acclaim. She became red hot, and the TV Land series was actually publicized heavily as her next big project. She was originally only supposed to do a guest turn in the first episode, but quickly producers decided she needed to stay for the whole run. An eighty-eight year old broad with a cameo made sure that Cleveland rocked, and she did for an entire season.
Facts of the Case
Three best friends from Los Angeles accidentally end up in Cleveland because their plane to Paris has mechanical problems. They enter a bar, and soon discover something they never knew. They are HOT! Men actually want them, despite their age. They marvel at a world where men look like men, women look their age, and everyone eats without guilt. And so Melanie (Valerie Bertinelli, One Day at a Time) leases a house, and Joy (Jane Leeves, Frasier) and Victoria (Wendie Malick, Just Shoot Me) decide to crash for a while. Everything is idyllic until they meet the sharp-tongued caretaker Elka (Betty White, The Golden Girls).
Television has become a place where older ladies rule the world. Desperate Housewives has been on top of prime time, and you can't turn on the Bravo cable network without running into the housewives of some county or city strutting their middle aged stuff. Television viewers want older women, and no doubt the cast of The Hills is praying all the sun tanning will lead to some wrinkles. And so Hot in Cleveland has become TV Land's first bona fide hit, and given it's cast (who are all well north of fifty) the comebacks they have been longing for.
There's much to like about Hot in Cleveland, and each show goes down like cotton candy comedy. The writing is cute, although simply straight-ahead sitcom in nature. It feels like many shows that have come before, and it should be familiar territory for the cast, who have all been in major hit ones at some point. Hell, I think Betty White may have invented the entire genre back in her day. So is it any wonder that the cast carries the show and elevates everything? Every scene works, even the lamest jokes seem charming, and whenever Betty White shows up in a bedazzled track suit you want to cheer. The show is giddy silly fun with a rock solid cast and a star who's almost ninety years old. There's nothing too challenging about any of it or even a "very special episode" to be found. This is simply a breezy half hour with a nice group of comediennes who happen to be over fifty.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
This two-disc DVD set simply gathers together the ten episodes that make up season one. Transfers are widescreen, but they look decidedly basic cable in quality. Colors are good, but there is a softness and overall lack of detail that makes the whole thing looks a bit cheap. Bonus features are simply featurettes which include: a look at the wardrobe, the cast discussing how age makes no difference, a set tour, a full length version of a commercial Victoria does for lady diapers, bloopers, and the pilot episode of Retired at 35. Also included is the original full-length pilot.
I feel let down by the set, because I think we could have heard more from the cast. Before the second year premiered TV Land produced a "behind the scenes" special which was more in-depth than anything on this DVD. Here you have a chance to have a round table discussion with ladies who have ruled sitcoms for over forty years, and yet there is not even a commentary or Q&A session to be found. It's a wasted opportunity.
The show is fun and a great vehicle for the cast, and it is also an awesome chance to see Betty White back on television. The DVD set isn't all that impressive, but the content is strong enough to make it seem worth owning or at least checking out. Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, and Wendie Malick are comedy pros, and they do well even with the middle of the road material offered here. But of course you tune in for Betty, and she doesn't disappoint. Hot in Cleveland is fun well past forty and even twice that age.
Not guilty of being too old to make me laugh.
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Scales of Justice
• Original Pilot
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