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It’s the situation no son wants to find himself in: Walking in on his mom and her beau in disheveled, post-coital bliss. But the horror is even more potent for Portland, Oregon, restaurateur Nate Marlowe (Josh Zuckerman) in the new CW series Significant Mother. He returns from a business trip to discover his glamorous mom Lydia (Krista Allen) hooking up with his best friend/roommate Jimmy (Nathaniel Buzolic).
Hijinks ensue, though by the end of the first episode — the only installment of the first season’s nine episodes sent out for review — every possible iteration of this gag-inducing gag feels like it’s been cycled through. Nate expresses his displeasure in some way. Lydia and/or Jimmy try to make amends. Cross-generational horniness proves impossible to ignore. Nate stumbles in on mom and friend again. Repeat ad nauseum. Even the premiere episode’s final scene, which initially strains for cringe-inducing sentimentality, works some variation on this formula via a worn-out VHS tape.
No surprise that this one-joke series was initially conceived by creators Erin Cardillo and Richard Keith for CW Seed, an online offshoot of the CW network. Was it nostalgic love for Emmanuelle alum Allen or Weekend at Bernie’s headliner Jonathan Silverman (playing Nate’s well-heeled heel of a father) that made executives think Significant Mother had primetime potential? Truly, there’s little here that inspires much beyond irritated indifference.
The pacing is annoyingly manic. Sample dialogue includes such past-sell-by-date witticisms as “His penis is like Anthony Bourdain. It has no reservations.” The Portland location shooting at least provides a little local flavor, though that’s a grasping-at-straws bit of praise. During a belabored setpiece on a basketball court, where Nate and Jimmy get into a knock-down slapstick brawl, the background extras pique viewer interest more than the two charisma-free leads. If ever a camera could have a life of its own.
One other plus: Allen at least seems to be having fun with her role, showing some technically sharp comedic chops after a lifetime of playing roles like “Pretty Woman” in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, “Holographic Woman” in Paycheck and “MILF” in The Final Destination. (This reviewer will always have a soft spot for her virtual vixen Maitreya in The X-Files episode “First Person Shooter.”) Sad that she’s still an object of cocky lust first and foremost. There’s clearly more to her than just a fine figure.
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