TV

Malibu Country

COUNTRY STRONG The show's simplicity (complete with a studio audience) is both its appeal and detriment

COUNTRY STRONG The show's simplicity (complete with a studio audience) is both its appeal and detriment (Nicole Wilder/ABC)

B-

Malibu Country

Broadcaster: ABC

Here’s an old-school-style sitcom — complete with a studio audience offering shrieky laughs — starring Reba McEntire as a one-time country star looking to jump-start her career by moving from Tennessee to California. (Her husband done her wrong, and she decides she ain’t standin’ by her man.)

In certain ways Malibu Country can be viewed as the flip side of ABC’s drama Nashville, which features another middle-aged woman in career-crisis mode. One big difference: This actress writes her own songs. Another: Reba McEntire really lived through a career revival and is still relevant on the country charts. As on her previous show, Reba, McEntire can sell corny punchlines with the best of them, and the cast includes one of the best, Lily Tomlin, whose character (Reba’s free-spirited mom) floats through some of the proceedings in a medical-marijuana haze. And the always charming Sara Rue (Less Than Perfect) flits in and out as a pulchritudinous next-door neighbor.

I can’t say I laughed a lot, but I like the premise and kind of dig the sheer novelty of a show that doesn’t have characters forever addressing the camera. Nor do the folks here spend gobs of time coming up with cute euphemisms for their nether parts, with that being passed off as joke writing. Viva la throwback! B-

Originally posted November 2 2012 — 12:00 AM EDT

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