'The Mysteries of Laura': TV Review

The Mysteries of Laura Still - H 2014
Barry Wetcher/NBC

The Mysteries of Laura Still - H 2014

No mystery here — skip this awful thing

Egregiously bad NBC series makes you wonder if anyone saw it before it got on the air. Imagine being a cop and a mom — wow, crazy times

Periodically a television show comes along that makes you wonder if someone at the network declined to read the script and then, just to compound the issue, skipped watching the pilot but gave the green light anyway.

That's certainly a plausible solution to the mystery of how in the hell something as awful as The Mysteries of Laura got on the air. In 2014. On a broadcast network. Which employs people who should have never let it get this far. But hey, life is always trying to make you more of a cynic. Teaching you the hard lessons.

In this case, nobody had the guts to say, "This is a terrible script. It should be completely rewritten by someone who can write." Nor did they say, later, "We just pissed away millions of dollars on this crappy pilot. Can we just agree that we've made a horrible mistake, not pick this up and pretend it never happened?"

Instead, everybody must have ignored the blaring warning signs and stayed silent when given the chance to speak up. Who knows? Maybe a pig stood on a buzzer at some audience testing facility and here we are.

Debra Messing (who seriously needs a new agent or a good friend with perspective) stars as Laura Diamond, harried mother and cop. But unlike the millions and millions of other working mothers who are just sort of harried, Messing's Diamond is so overly harried that she just wants to leave her little monster boys someplace and come pick them up at the end of the day, trailing empty juice boxes and emotional fallout behind her.

Now, granted, women who are great at their jobs but lousy at their private lives is one of television's most cherished cliches. The Mysteries of Laura takes it to another level, however — absurdity — which is kind of what you might expect for a comedy, except there is no part of Laura that's at all funny. Absurd, yes. Frantic for no reason, sure. Funny? No.

Written by Jeff Rake (Boston Legal) and directed McG (Supernatural), both of whom are executive producers along with Greg Berlanti, Laura isn't just a show that you can says misses on the tone and thus fails. It's not a show that you can feasibly claim suffers from "pilot-itis," and it therefore will likely get better as it goes on. No, this is the kind of show where the trailers flat-out tell you that the person behind the crime at the center of the show is Laura's boss.

What the what?

That could be NBC's fault, no doubt. It's not like the network was paying attention, as noted above, when this dog was being birthed. But what are you supposed to make of a show where there's a crime Laura is working on and the killer, revealed in the promos, is her boss? What part of this process respects your intelligence or the many other viewing choices you have? It's like NBC is saying, "We think you're not only stupid but have hours and hours of time to waste in your life. So here, watch our show with Debra Messing in it. Remember, she was recently in Smash? No? Well, she was also Grace from Will & Grace. P.S., her boss did it."

It would be a maddening exercise to list all the elements in The Mysteries of Laura that are, at their core, asinine. Suffice it to say, avoid this at all costs. In a fall filled with bad new shows, it's one of the worst. You don't need to be a cop — and a mom! — to figure that out.

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com

Twitter: @BastardMachine