ABC Family's new sitcom, Melissa & Joey (which premieres Aug. 18 at 8 p.m. ET) stars a couple of former teen stars: Melissa Joan Hart of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Clarissa Explains It All, and Joey "Whoa!" Lawrence of Blossom (and later, of Brotherly Love).
It's no accident that their recognizable names are right there in the title. What better way to market this comedy, which revolves around two former sitcom stars, than to title it with… their names? And it certainly sounds better than, say, One Show, Two Comebacks!
Just to clarify: Hart and Lawrence aren't playing themselves; their characters happen to share their names. Will this gimmick work? Possibly. This sitcom's two-lines-and-a-joke formula is just like the stuff that made both of them famous a decade ago. Secondly, they've earned good ratings as a pair before -- in ABC Family's 2009 TV movie, My Fake Fiancé.
The setup: She's a career woman who just got stuck raising her jailbird sister's teenagers. He's a commodities trader who just lost his fortune through white collar fraud. So, she needs a nanny, and he needs a job and a home. By the end of the first episode, they're living the Who's the Boss? dream.
I'm bothering to explain this, because you might miss some plot points at first -- so absorbed will you be in wondering what happened to Joey Lawrence's hair. Let's face it: In his good old teen heartthrob days, he had hair that rivaled Patrick Swayze's -- thick, wavy, life-of-its-own hair. Now? All gone. I, for one, spent the first five minutes of Melissa & Joey studying Joey's face, confirming that it was actually him. Without that flowing hair, I really had to look.
"Did your hair get sick of you and leave?" Melissa jabs at one point, and you feel like the show's hurrying to make the joke before the viewer does. "This is a choice," Joey retorts, defensively. And, true enough, it's funny.
If all goes well for these former teen stars, the name game will work: Having their names in the title will bring in the old Clarissa and Blossom fans (maybe Alyssa Milano's recently canceled comeback -- ABC's Romantically Challenged -- would have fared better if it were simply named Alyssa?), and the hair jokes will keep them watching. If not, at least Hart and Lawrence know they can always go back to starring in cheesy made-for-TV movies.
Are you happy to see Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence back on TV in a new show together? Chime in below!
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