Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bun Done?

The first season (or maybe the second of two mini-seasons) of Bunheads just ended. It's on ABC Family, where ratings haven't been great, so this might be it.  And that would be too bad.  It may not be at the level of a Breaking Bad or Game Of Thrones, or, as a comedy, Community or Party Down, but it's a funny and charming show that deserves to be renewed.

The concept is Michelle Simms (Broadway star Sutton Foster--she's the reason I started watching), a Las Vegas showgirl in her thirties whose show biz career once showed promise, marries on a whim an old admirer, Hubbell.  He takes her to his home in Paradise, California, a city on the ocean not that far from Los Angeles, and promptly dies.  So widow Michelle stays at Hubbell's home with his mother, Fanny (Kelly Bishop), who has a ballet studio where the young bunheads train--particularly close friends Sasha, Ginny, Boo and Melanie.

The show, created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, specializes in repartee--I'd guess a Bunheads sript is ten or twenty pages longer than a regular hourlong. It also features musical numbers, which, unlike the overproduced Glee, are fairly realistic (if sometimes done as fantasy).



Bunheads does have problems, the central one being it's two shows that haven't quite coalesced.  The first show is Michelle's story.  She's stuck in this strange town and but would also like to get back into real show business.  What should she do?  The second show is the four bunheads and their coming of age story, featuring high school hijinks.  Michelle sometimes teaches the girls and they look up to her, but there are plenty of episodes where the bunheads and Michelle barely acknowledge each other.

Also, the show, though it has an emotional core, is a little too cute, as it reveals ever more eccentric characters in the overly eccentric town of Paradise.  Furthermore, it's picked up and dropped a lot of subplots, and doesn't always seem to know where it's going.

The final episode, "Next!," had Michelle driving to a cattle call in LA for a part in a Broadway chorus.  The girls secretly follow and watch the process. Michelle does well at the audition but discovers it's a union formality since the choreographer always hires the same people. Meanwhile, back in Paradise, the girls are wondering if they should have sex with their boyfriends, and seek out Michelle's advice.  It was an episode that, I thought, mixed the two stories and had them interact properly.  I hope, if they get a second season, this will be an episode that points the way.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Wow. ASP has re-created Gilmore Girls and given it a new name. The lead talks like Lauren Graham, and her mother-in-law is even played by the same actress who played the grandma on the original GG.

GG was usually an excellent show. The lead was brilliant, the teenager was very good, Kelly Bishop was amazing -- but the over-the-top goofy minor characters tended to ruin it sometimes. But I'm being redundant. You just said that about Bunheads.

12:30 PM, February 27, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Some producers seem to create the same show over and over. I've never seen Gilmore Girls but it sounds like if Bunheads is canceled I could start watching reruns and never notice the difference.

Does Gilmore Girls feature musical numbers? I don't know that much about Lauren Graham, but before Bunheads I knew Kelly Bishop best as a Tony winner for the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line.

1:01 PM, February 27, 2013  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

No, the music and dance wasn't there. And the fact that there was one daughter (plus her zany friends) meant that the focus of the show was very much on the young-mother / wise-beyond-her-years-daughter relationship.

Well, I guess there was a little singing, but always in a natural setting, like the end of the following brilliant scene: this clip (watch from the counter position to the end). Kelly Bishop doesn't dance or sing in GG but she's still spectacular.

3:57 PM, February 27, 2013  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

OOPS, reposting with links fixed:

No, the music and dance wasn't there. And the fact that there was one daughter (plus her zany friends) meant that the focus of the show was very much on the young-mother / wise-beyond-her-years-daughter relationship.

Well, I guess there was a little singing, but always in a natural setting, like the end of the following brilliant scene: Aftermath of Party (just watch the first scene, about two and a half minutes).

Two more great scenes are in this clip (watch from the counter position to the end). Kelly Bishop doesn't dance or sing in GG but she's still spectacular.

4:03 PM, February 27, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Wow, it's the same show. Sutton Foster is playing the same character as Lauren Graham (they even look the same) and Kelly Bishop is the same Kelly Bishop. I wonder if ASP didn't sell it as Gilmore Girls at the ballet.

4:48 PM, February 27, 2013  

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