Friday, February 28, 2014

Review - Mixology


Welcome to mid-season!  While many cable shows are making their long-awaited returns (among them TV Tour Guide faves TNT's Dallas and Rizzoli & Isles and USA's Suits), the major nets are starting to premiere many new shows, among them ABC's Mixology.


Written by The Hangover's Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and executive produced by many including Ryan Seacrest (yep, yet another job for the man), Mixology takes place in the high-end Manhattan bar, Mix, and follows the exploits and romantic pursuits of ten singles over the course of one night. The 13-episode freshman season stars a cast of relative unknowns:  Blake Lee (Parks and Recreation) is Tom, recently dumped by his fiancée and out on the town for the first time in a decade with best pals Cal (Craig Frank, 8.13) and Bruce (Andrew Santino, Punk'd); Ginger Gonzaga (Legit), is Maya, an equally beautiful and brutal attorney who’s as beautiful as she is brutal;  engaged (for now) Liv (Kate Simses); aggressive single mom Jessica (Alexis Carra); Jessica’s gorgeous and chic frenemy Fabienne (Frankie Shaw); bubbly cocktail waitress Kacey (Vanessa Lengies, Glee); dark, mysterious bartender Dominic (Adan Canto, The Following); and failed internet entrepreneur Ron (Adam Campbell), who’s having the worst night of his life.

Wow.  Um.  Where to start?  Well, how about the fact that we have a show where the guys are kind-of average joes but all the women are smoking hot?  Yes, it's TV.  Yes, this bar is in Manhattan.  But they couldn't throw a single regular looking woman into the "mix", even in the background?

I'm not a regular bar patron, so I can't say first hand what men discuss while scoping the scene trying to pinpoint who to hit on.  And yes, I know TV dialogue isn't meant to exactly mirror reality, and in most cases I accept that.  It's par for the course, especially in a sitcom.  Friends did it brilliantly in the coffee shop.  And for the ladies, we had Sex and the City, which is still one of my all-time favorite shows (funny enough, both these shows were mentioned in the first scene with our lead guys).    But here, with lines like "kind of want to eat off her butt" and "the higher the heels, the looser she feels" - just creeped me out.  Then there's the reason Bruce has Kleenex strewn all about his apartment.  Not because guys need tissues to blow their noses or for guests.  Nope.  Because he "pops off" everywhere.  Ew.

Side note:  I always wonder why things like this - raunch humor - work so well for me on certain shows (case in point, CBS' 2 Broke Girls) but not on others.  My TV viewing enigma ...

Anyway, back to Mixology.  The show moves very fast, jumping around the bar to hone in on how everyone's night is going.  It's also yet another show that is making use of the narrative voice over (in this case, it's Bruce) and flashback vignettes to fill you in on the characters' pasts, histories, etc.  It's a helpful way to avoid long blocks of exposition, but while I still enjoy this trend on certain shows (ABC's delightful The Goldbergs), and does seem to work here, it's starting to become too common a go-to storytelling device.  For this show, I kind of wish the writers felt they had enough to work with to keep us within the bar, if that is the unique premise I think they want us as viewers to acknowledge - one night, one bar.  But to be fair, that might not be interesting enough to carry through 13 episodes.

Mixology reminded me a lot of the movie Swingers, with Tom here being Jon Favreau's sweet-hearted, broken Mike and Bruce being Vince Vaughn's chauvinistic, womanizing Trent.  There's also the more recent Crazy, Stupid, Love (insert Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling into the roles, respectively).  I love Swingers. I adore CSLMixology ... eh.  I guess with so much to watch these days, it's going to take an amazing show that nabs me right from the jump to win me over.  I may be being unfair to Mixology, but that's how it goes. 

Then again, when I see the show embracing low-brow humor similar to that featured in The Hangover - a movie franchise I really didn't enjoy - like when beer is poured over a baby seconds after it's born, I forgive myself for rash judgment.

Admittedly, I do wonder what's going to happen, being that the show covers just one night.  If it's renewed, will it just each season be a different night with the same people in the same bar - this group's Central Perk - or will it carry on to their ongoing lives stemming from this night forward?

A positive - I do like the last line of the pilot:  "This is the story of 10 strangers, one night and all the ridiculous things we do to find love ... and the night has just begun."

BOTTOM LINE:  I can see Mixology mixing it up with ABC's lineup, but not necessarily with mine.

Mixology airs Wednesdays at 9:30 pm on ABC.

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