Judge Gordon Sullivan is the ladies' man of his Overwatchers Anonymous meetings.
Our review of Mike & Molly: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray), published October 6th, 2011, is also available.
Can Mike and Molly get hitched without a hitch?
It's a statistical fact that Americans are getting larger, something like an average increase of twenty pounds in the last few decades. Despite the increasing number of larger Americans, the culture at large (ha!) has been slow to represent them in mass media. Sure, the "fat friend" has been around almost as long as moving pictures, but having overweight main characters who aren't immediately the sidekick or the butt of every joke is a remarkable rarity. Mike & Molly splits the difference between those two possibilities. Yes, it's a television sitcom about two overweight people, but their weight is a constant source of jokes and plot lines. That would be a tolerable compromise, if their relationship wasn't stuffed into a trite sitcom formula that could stand to lose a bit of its weight in characters.
Facts of the Case
Mike & Molly centers on the title couple: he's a cop and she's a schoolteacher. They met in the first season at an Overeater's Anonymous meeting (because, see, they're both overweight). Though things aren't always smooth between them, they eventually fall in love. The first season ended with Mike proposing to Molly (and her unsurprising acceptance). Now in Mike & Molly: The Complete Second Season, the pair have to manage living together—with Molly's family, naturally, since this is a sitcom—and all the troubles that wedding plans bring with them. All twenty-three episodes are presented on three discs.
I love Melissa McCarthy. I thought her role on Gilmore Girls was fantastic, transcending her initial appearance as the "overweight best friend" stereotype. When she broke out with Bridesmaids, demonstrating her willingness to go pretty far out there for the sake of comedy. For me, she's really what sells Mike & Molly. Because it's a traditional sitcom, Mike isn't given quite as much to do (he has to play the bumbling fool), while Molly gets a bit more to work with. McCarthy takes to her role with gusto. It's not quite the stretch of Bridesmaids or Gilmore Girls, but she makes the role her own in an impressive way. Similarly, though he has less to do, Billy Gardell is winning just for his good nature. His character isn't really complicated, but Gardell brings a surprising "aww shucks" persona that television has been lacking in the last few years.
Some of the plot lines are interesting as well. Molly's attempts to get a promotion to vice principal at her school give the episodes the kind of continuity some sitcoms lack. Occasionally, there's also a twist on the old formula; in one episode Mike starts acting suspicious and Molly thinks he must be cheating. Because they're both overweight, though, he's cheating with food. That's not particularly novel, but the fact that Mike goes to a meeting for gay members of Overeaters Anonymous is a new twist.
Presented in their broadcast ratio of 1.78:1, with anamorphic transfers, this season of Mike & Molly looks clean and bright. It's a standard sitcom look, with everything lit perfectly and evenly. Colors are bold and bright for the most part, with natural looking skin tones. There isn't much movement or other problematic aspects to cause the compression to choke. The Dolby 5.1 Surround track is wasted, however. Dialogue is clean and clear from the center channel. Mixing with the canned laughter is okay, but the laugh track did get a bit overpowering at times. Surround activity was not usually noticeable, but with a comedy like this, that's not much of a surprise.
Extras start with "Mike and Molly's Wedding Video." This 13-minute featurette gives an overview of the season, mixing clips from the show with talking-head style interviews with most of the cast and crew. There is also a gag reel that runs for 6 minutes and includes the usual gaffes and flubs. The previous season included a couple of more featurettes, but these are fine for this kind of show. The three DVDs come housed in a standard-width case, and the case also includes a small booklet with promo photos and an episode list.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Mike and Molly are the heart of the show. In this reviewer's humble opinion, they would be enough for a show. Creator Chuck Lorre disagrees with me, so the cast is filled out with numerous other characters who get a strong percentage of the screen time. I mean Mike's partner just happens to be a guy who still lives with his grandmother, and Molly's sister is a big pothead. Do we really need these kind of stock characters in a generally kindhearted comedy with two such good-natured people at the center? I think not. Though the actors who portray them are all great (including Eastbound and Down alum Katy Mixon), there isn't much for them to do aside from react predictably to the standard situations that beset Mike and Molly.
As much as the show includes some novel twists on some of the sitcom formulas, it is still fundamentally a stock sitcom that does all the expected things. Since Mike and Molly are getting married, there has to be anxiety about the wedding, the possibility of eloping, crazy bachelor(ette) night shenanigans, and the breathless possibility that one of them won't make it to the altar. It's a trite series of events that even the most innocent viewers will see coming…or will have seen coming since Mike popped the question.
Fans of Mike & Molly's first season will find this Season Two to be more of the same. The title characters are still struggling with their weight, their relationship, and the people around them. They still get into situations that take exactly 22 minutes to resolve. For those not won over by the initial storyline of love, this season's marriage nonsense won't likely convince you either.
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