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Featured TV on DVD Review: Gary Unmarried: Season One

February 7th, 2010

Gary Unmarried: Season One - Buy from Amazon

When Jay Mohr left Ghost Whisperer at the end of the season three / beginning of season four, I was unsure it was a wise career move. Granted, he was going on the play the title character on Gary Unmarried, but leaving a successful show is always a risk. That and the early previews I saw didn't fill me with hope. There is a lot of talent here, but it didn't seem like the show was using that talent to its potential.

Jay Mohr plays Gary Brooks, who at the start of the pilot has been divorced from his wife Allison, played by Paula Marshall, for a few months. They had two kids together, Tommy and Louise, a slacker and an overachiever. In the first episode, Gary met and started dating Vanessa, whom he met on the job. (He runs his own house painting company.) Meanwhile, he learns that Allison is engaged to Dr. Walter Krandall, their marriage councilor. (Yeah, there's definitely something unethical about that.)

That's the basic setup for the first several episodes, but it was clear something was wrong here. The pilot episode was rather weak for two main reasons. First, the laugh track was oppressive. Second, the writing was really... uncomplicated. Too often it took the easy sitcom route for laughs. Yes, there were laughs, but I was hoping for more. Obviously the people in charge were as well, as there were changes right from the beginning. (In fact, Laura Marano was replaced by Kathryn Newton in the role of Louise, the younger of the two Brooks kids. As much as I thought the pilot was weak, I never thought Laura Marano was the issue; however, Kathryn Newton is excellent.) Other changes are a little more central to the plot, including both Gary and Allison having relationship issues with neither of their original significant others. Partway through, Max Gail joins the cast as Jack, Gary's hippie father, while near the end of the season Rob Riggle enters as Mitch, Gary's half-brother.

That's a lot of changes in the cast of a show in one season, and there were also changes behind the camera as well with a couple of executive producers leaving due to "creative differences." Because of this, the show never really finds it footing during its first season, but it does show potential. Perhaps season two will have a more stable run and it will become a long running show. With the amount of comedic talent here, I sure hope so.

Extras on the three-disc set are all found on the third disc, starting with a 15-minute behind-the-scenes featurette called The Chemistry of Comedy. Planet Begley runs just under six minutes and it talks about the ways Ed Begley Jr. lives an environmentally friendly life. Tuesday On The Set With Jay is a five-minute set tour with Jay Mohr. Finally, there are just over two minutes of outtakes. This is a reasonable selection of extras, but I would have liked an audio commentary track or two.

The Verdict

I like Jay Mohr, Paula Marshall, Ed Begley Jr., as well as a number of the guest stars (like Martin Mull and Jane Curtin, who play Allison's parents). But Gary Unmarried doesn't fully utilize the combined comedic talent here, which can be frustrating at times. Overall Season One is worth checking out, but it could be so much more.

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