Title: Kirstie: Pilot (Season One, Episode One)

Starring: Kirstie Alley, Eric Petersen, Rhea Perlman and Michael Richards

Happily embracing your family and friends’ natural quirks and unique personalities is something many people struggle to do on a regular basis. But coming to realize that those distinct traits make your loved ones who they really are is something many people struggle with, and hopefully come to terms with, in their lives. Learning to love and appreciate your friends and family is the main driving force in the new TV Land family sitcom, ‘Kirstie,’ which premieres on Wednesday, December 4 at 10/9C. The show features a funny Kirstie Alley in the title role in her prime-time television return, who organically bonded with her co-stars to create a true sense of both love and discontentment among the characters.

The pilot episode of ‘Kirstie’ follows Madison “Maddie” Banks (Alley), a renowned Broadway actress whose life is turned upside town when the 26-year-old son she gave up for adoption, Arlo (Eric Petersen), suddenly appears. He’s hoping to reconnect with his birth mother after his adoptive parents have died, but Maddie is initially wary of the nerdy young man on her door step.

While Maddie doesn’t believe her long-lost son fits into her luxurious lifestyle, particularly with the anticipated opening night of her new show, her staff, including personal assistant Thelma (Rhea Perlman), personal chief (Gilles Marini) and driver Frank (Michael Richards), encourage to give Arlo a chance. Maddie is shocked to discover that she has more motherly instincts than she originally thought.

Alley, who clearly proved her natural comedic talents as the successful, savvy theater actress who knows how to manipulate her target audience and peers, also amusingly played up Maddie’s emotional insecurities. The lead actress had no qualms about passing judgment on those surrounding Maddie, including Thelma and Frank, as she thought her staff was at times beneath her social standing. But Alley instantly and effortlessly emphasized Maddie’s apprehension about connecting with her long-lost son, whether questioning his job at a New Jersey doughnut shop called The Glazed Hole, or his enthusiasm over participating in Civil War reenactments. While Maddie initially appears as another superficial actress who only cares about her success, Alley creatively balanced the character’s need to maintain her professional image while balancing her need to develop her personal relationships.

The supporting cast also gave endearing, hilarious performances as those who are technically the closest to Maddie in her life, but don’t always know how to please her or develop a true bond with her. Petersen perfectly balanced Alley’s relatable portrayal of a woman afraid of exploring the unknown with an enthusiastic performance of a determined, exuberant young man who happily embraces life’s challenges. Arlo clearly knows nothing about how to fit into his birth mother’s glamorous life in the spotlight, but still enjoys the prospect of getting to know her motivations in life.

‘Kirstie’ series writer Marco Pennette perfectly created a diverse set of characters who are likely to provide ample scenarios of wit and laughter at each other’s expense. From Maddie instinctively questioning her son’s seemingly unworthy lifestyle choices to the actress’ staff chastising her for being so standoffish to Arlo, the scribe’s natural humor offers a relatability that everyone can understand. While many viewers don’t have the money Maddie has made from her theater career, the continuous banter between her and her dysfunctional family and staff perfectly correlates to the everyday miscommunications that naturally arise between loved ones.

The new TV Land sitcom ‘Kirstie’ is a comical, entertaining sitcom that features relatable situations that many viewers will surely find humorous and engaging. The witty cast was powerfully led by the savvy Alley, who effortlessly played the outwardly snotty, but surprisingly heartfelt, theater actress. Pennette, the charming main screenwriter of the series, cleverly created a diverse set of characters who not only make themselves, but also the audience, ponder their relationships, and how they can significantly improve their already comedic relationships and personalities.

Technical: B

Acting: A-

Story: B+

Overall: B+

Written by: Karen Benardello

Maddie Says Hello
Maddie (Kirstie Alley) welcomes Arlo (Eric Petersen) to her home in TV Land’s new original sitcom ‘Kirstie,’ premiering Wednesday, December 4th at 10pm ET/PT.
From left to right: Kirstie Alley and Eric Petersen

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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