Cast: Craig Frank, Ginger Gonzaga, Blake Lee, Vanessa Lengies
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
The premise of the new ABC sitcom Mixology is a unique one. Like Paul Thomas Anderson films, ampoule
it presents a large cast and then slowly introduces him episodically— one element of their personalities at a time. The comedy begins with this voice-over and premise: “This is the story of ten strangers, web
one night and all of the ridiculous things we do to find love.”
Each of the three episodes made available for review focused on one particular couple at a bar on one particular evening. The first highlighted couple are Tom (Blake Lee) and Maya (Ginger Gonzaga). Tom is the emotional male that we’ve seen on sitcoms before—recently broken-hearted and spending time with his male colleagues— while Maya is a more cold-hearted woman. She only dates professional athletes because they symbolize the masculine ideal and yet, they too eventually become emotional wimps emasculated by her demanding personality. Tom and Maya don’t immediately hit it off but their charming banter keeps them both in the conversation.
Their friends and fellow bar patrons take the back seat in the pilot episode only to have the spotlight shone on them later. The second episode for instance focuses predominantly on the budding relationship between the risk-averse Liv (Kate Simses)— a friend of Maya’s— and Ron (Adam Campbell), a charming British fellow who claims to have lost all of his millions that morning. As the series continues, supporting characters from previous episodes take on larger roles and the program presents the individuals in different environments (in episode three, for instance, Tom tries his luck at being a wing-man for his two buddies).
The first episode, admittedly, has its shortcomings. From the crass sex talk to Ron’s introduction (which involves him throwing up in a stranger’s purse), it starts off on the wrong footing but eventually finds the right tone. One of its greatest assets are the flashbacks it uses to brilliant effect. Instead of simply introducing a character at the bar, the narrator (whomever it may be in that particular episode) talks about that character’s upbringing and why they became who they are.
But the show has a unique quality to it that hopefully keeps the audience coming back. Even if a character may seem like a one-dimensional “bro” in episode one, episode three could present a different side of him. And three episodes in, I’m already looking forward to the episodes that explore these characters more.
For some people, the characters may seem a bit superficial but the more I watched the show, the more I enjoyed its humorous dialogue— “Heroes always break the rules. Didn’t you see Ratatouille?“— and the ways that it explored its characters. I’m not sure how the show can continue if its focus is to remain on one bar on one particular evening but I’m intrigued by the characters and hope to see the writers flesh out the premise even more in the weeks to come.
The first taste of Mixology may leave a bitter taste in your mouth but after a few more sips, it turns out that this “mixed drink” is worth staying up for.
Review by: John Hanlon