The Flaming Nose is plenty excited about TV Land's new filmed-live-in-front-of-a-studio-audience sitcom Hot in Cleveland, premiering tonight (Wednesday, June 16th) at 10pm. Why this anticipation? Good provenance -- actor and sometime producer Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) is exec producing, writers with Frasier and Ellen experience are on aboard -- and a good cast of female comedy veterans, including Betty White, the very deserving darling of the moment. If you're at all an aficionado of television comedy, you should be heartened by the rest of the starring ladies, too: Valerie Bertinelli ('70s smash One Day at a Time), Jane Leeves (Frasier), and Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me! and early cable sitcom Dream On).
Granted, the premise may be more silly than sublime -- a trio of slightly over-the-hill L.A. beauties are stranded in Cleveland, Ohio and find themselves enjoying the reception they get from the local lads -- but the time feels right for silly and I'm going with this one. Betty White is the acerbic-tongued housekeeper they meet up with; stand back and let the quips begin. I've got to give big support to this quartet of pros, all nicely matured, who look terrific and really know how to sling a comedy line.
The producers are proud of the fact that the show is filmed live, with no added canned laughter, and let's hope the writing is sharp enough to keep those audience members entertained as much as we hope we'll be. This is TV Land's first original sitcom, a big step after the net's long and successful history as part of Nick at Nite back in the mid-80s, and as its own entity ten years later. TV Land used to be just that -- a wonderful place for classic TV lovers -- but in an eternal and probably unwinnable quest to skew younger the channel spurned its roots and has turned lately to reality shows and defiantly post-boomer content. Perhaps Hot in Cleveland will both fulfill their advertiser dreams for original content and at the same time reach out to viewers who've felt abandoned by what used to be such a fun channel. Count me as one of the latter.