In the Motherhood -- TV Review

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Mom always said, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything." Here's the amendment for networks: "If you can't say anything new, don't say anything." Because when you do, you end up with a midseason replacement series like "In the Motherhood," a watered-down adaptation of the racier Web series.

Not that the TV version doesn't have its charms: Cheryl Hines ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") and Megan Mullally ("Will & Grace") are blessedly back in series rotation. Unfortunately, they're playing only slightly re-tooled versions of the characters that made them famous: Jane (Hines) is a frenetic, wide-eyed, cynical single parent who avoids home life by sharing a drink with her perfectionist sister Emily (Jessica St. Clair) and buddy Rosemary (Mullally), a black-clad narcissist who boinked Jane's "manny," Horatio (Horatio Sanz). Main third mama St. Clair is fine, but a bit greener than the other ladies.

The first episodes have good moments -- throwaway lines including Hines commenting on her Renee Zellweger-heavy DVD collection with, "I gotta get out more" and Horatio noting that his Santa-costumed belly is "90% quilted polyfiber and 10% chalupas." But the swing-for-the-fence humor tends to bunt rather than hit home while trying to focus on the trials and tribulations of being a mom in suburbia, a concept that was fresh around 1972.

The fast pace and changing scenery takes the traditional sitcom setup out of its hermetically sealed environment, which is a relief. But while the premiere episode holds together well (Emily's son learns there's no Santa and shares that with his fellow kindergarteners, sparking a riot; Jane has a date; Rosemary fakes pregnancy), the follow-up episode -- featuring a nanny strike, bad teeth and Jane getting locked out of her house -- doesn't hold together. Even with the combined power of Hines and Mullally, it's hard to know if this is the right 'hood to be investing in.

On the other hand, there is this hilarious Web series that might be worth checking out ...

Airdate: 8-8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26 (ABC)

Production companies: MindShare Entertainment, Pointy Bird Productions, ABC Studios

Cast: Cheryl Hines, Megan Mullally, Jessica St. Clair, Horatio Sanz,RonReaco Lee
Executive producers: Richard Shepard, David Lang, Stu Bloomberg, Jennifer Konner & Alexandra Rushfield
Creators: Jennifer Konner, Alexandra Rushfield
Based on the webseries conceived by: David Lang
Writers: Jennifer Konner & Alexandra Rushfield
Producer: P Todd Coe
Director: Richard Shepard
Director of photography: Sarah Cawley
Production designer: Victoria Paul
Costume designer: Linda Bass
Casting: Brett Greenstein, Collin Daniel
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