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"Married to the Kellys" Review

By Shawn McKenzie 10/23/2003

Earlier this year, Nia Vardalos had tried to transition her hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding into the CBS show “My Big Fat Greek Life.”  I loved the movie, and I thought it would make a great sitcom.  Despite having almost the same cast as the movie, the show didn’t work.  I think ABC’s “Married to the Kellys” might have been a little more along the lines of how the show should have gone.


New York author Tom Wagner (Breckin Meyer) was raised as an only child, so when he married Susan Kelly (Kiele Sanchez), a woman raised in the Mid-West by a large family, it was weird for him.  They have moved to Kansas to be closer to her family and now he has to get used to it.  They agreed to move anywhere she wanted after he sold his first novel, and she wanted to move back home.  Her family includes mother Sandy (Nancy Lenehan), the rule-maker of the house, and father Bill (Sam Anderson), who was once an only child himself, so he could be the one person Tom could relate to the most.  Susan’s competitive sister Mary (Emily Rutherfurd) and her husband Chris (Josh Braaten) are also part of the family.  They are both jealous of Tom.  Susan is jealous of his literary success, and Chris considers himself Bill and Sandy’s favorite son-in-law and finds Tom as somewhat of a threat.  The final member of the family is Susan’s brother Lewis (Derek Waters), a weird young man who is an entomology major in college and has made a hobby of collecting bugs in his room.


In the first episode, Tom and Susan are moving into their new house in Kansas.  Her family invites them over for dinner, even though he doesn’t want to go.  He has to participate in corn-shucking, board game-playing, and having his own wooden dog for the “doghouse system.”  Uncle Dave (Richard Riehle) comes over to have dinner with them, and he questions Tom on how Jewish he is.  Lewis freaks Tom out with his bug collection.  He gets Lewis to stand up to Dave and not bully him around.  In the end, Tom figures he had a good time with her family, but he is in no rush to repeat it.  Meanwhile, he is in the doghouse for stealing his wooden dog.


In the second episode, the Wagners get a barbeque grill from her parents.  Tom doesn’t know how to assemble it, but he doesn’t want her family to know about it.  Sandy and Bill have Fiesta Night, and Mary cooks the meal to spite Susan.  The Kelly men think Tom is a wuss because he didn’t eat as many tacos as them.  Tom gets swindled into inviting everyone over for a barbeque the next night, which is supposed to also include Susan’s side-dish cooking.  The grill has still not been assembled, and Susan doesn’t know how to cook.  They decide to switch jobs and not tell anyone.  Things are going great, until they have the cherry pie that contained un-pitted cherries.  They debate over telling the truth, but decide to keep going with the lie, because Susan accepts that there is no pleasing her family.  Bill asks Tom if he wants to do a two-person job with him, which is unfortunately cleaning out the septic tank.


In the third episode, Tom and Susan learn from Mary that Lewis may have a girlfriend.  It isn’t true, so Tom takes him pants shopping and tries to set him up.  He has Lewis ask the hot redheaded sales clerk named Beth (Kelly McNair) out on a date.  Lewis takes her to family dinner for the date, where Chris is leading the meal since Bill is out of town.  Things go great until Tom sets up their next date, prompting Lewis to go to bed early.  Tom finds out that Lewis didn’t want to walk her to the door because he does already has a girlfriend named Shari (Ashley Johnson) that he met back in college.  Lewis tells them that he and Shari broke up, so Tom goes to the campus to try to bring them back together.  They didn’t really break up, and they want Tom to keep it a secret so his sisters will stop bugging them, which he agrees to do.


Why am I comparing this show to “My Big Fat Greek Life?”  It is because they are both about a guy with a small family who marries a woman with a large family.  They both have to deal with the culture clash of the situation.  This show takes it one-step further though.  Tom not only has to deal with Susan’s family, he also has to get used to life in a smaller city.  I cracked up when Tom called the soft drink that Lewis was drinking a “soda,” and Susan explained that it is called a “pop” in the Mid-West (so true, so true.)  I think I could just feel the pain of Tom’s situation here a little better…kind of like the first time I saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding.


Meyer is great in this show, and I finally get to see him in a decent one.  He was in that awful NBC sitcom “Inside Schwartz” two years ago, and this one does his talents justice.  Sanchez is okay as Susan, but I wish that they had kept former “Dawson’s Creek” cast member Meredith Monroe in the role, because I liked her just a little better (I saw a tape of the original pilot.)  Sanchez and Monroe look alike physically though.


Waters’ character Lewis might become annoying after awhile.  I think they can keep the weird college kid thing going for so long before it wears its welcome.

Married to the Kellys” is based off the life of comedian/sitcom writer Tom Hertz’s real life.  All of the characters, except for the mostly-fictional Lewis, are named after their real-life counterparts.  Maybe it is because Hertz is drawing upon some real stories that it succeeds where “Life” failed.  It isn’t the funniest new show on TV, but it will make a good fit on ABC’s “TGIF” lineup.


Ratings System:


Try to catch this show every week...

If a better show is on, tape this one...

If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...

If this show is on, change the channel immediately!


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