MELISSA & JOEY “Pilot” Review

Melissa & Joey (ABC Family) "Pilot"

Tonight was the pilot episode of ABC Family’s new show, MELISSA & JOEY, starring Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence. Ahem, I mean Joe Lawrence. After their recent success with the movie My Fake Fiance, ABC Family decided that the actors had the right chemistry and humor to make a half hour comedy that viewers would tune in to see weekly. They may have been wrong.

Melissa & Joey centers around the named characters. Melissa is a councilwoman who has recently obtained custody of her niece, Lennox, and her nephew, Ryder, after their parents are involved in some sort of scandal or scheme that lands Melissa’s sister in prison and causes her brother-in-law to flee, never to be heard of again. At least that is what I gathered from side comments made during the show. The viewer really does not get an exact explanation of what is going on. After all, prison and child abandonment is not funny, but the inability to keep track of the kids in your custody apparently is.

Enter Joey. Joey is a former commodities trader and self-made millionaire until he, like many others supposedly, was scammed by Melissa’s brother-in-law and left penniless, homeless, wifeless and almost careless. Somehow this translates into Joey working as Melissa’s live-in nanny despite the fact that she had never seen him prior to the day before she hired him and despite the fact that the entirety of what she knows about him is what I wrote in the last sentence. Things move quickly in half hour comedy land.

As for the plot, Lennox will not open up to Melissa, will not move her clothes out of their suitcases and manages to get herself suspended from school. Joey swoops in to charm Lennox off the roof and to school to meet with the principal whom she wrote a horrible poem about managing to rhyme her principal’s name with a bad word (Principal Lunt, really?). Lennox also acknowledges how much Melissa has helped her and what a wonderful job she has been doing. All in the span of five minutes and due to some guy she never saw prior to him appearing on the roof.

Other things that happen? Melissa finds she doesn’t have time to date due to the problems with Lennox. Joey finds what he thinks is a creative way to deal with Ryder’s school issues while also teaching him how to do a jumpshot. The moment is ruined when Joey accidentally calls Melissa Ryder’s Mom reminding him that he was abandoned. That is okay, though, Joey was abandoned to by his wife. We are not sure why, but it can only be assumed it is because he is now broke.

Generally I like Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence (he will always be Joey to me). I even liked them together in My Fake Finance. In fact, I even like them together in this show. However, the scenes when they are not interacting feel forced and Melissa seems to be whipping out her lines so fast and furiously that they lose all meaning. You know it is bad when they resort to physical humor, like Melissa tripping over a bunch of garbage that has been sitting on her porch and readily visible the entire show.

I want to give this show a chance and I will. I must say, though, that the first 20 minutes tonight were brutal. Hopefully, it was just the introductions, jamming the background in, and getting the characters acquainted with each other that made it seem so jumbled and bad.

What were your thoughts on the pilot episode of Melissa & Joey? Do you think Melissa and Joey have chemistry? Share your thoughts on this episode in the comments below.