The transition from mini-series to regular show seems to be an easy one for The Starter Wife, however when your source material is based on a book, the real challenge is bring that series to life while still appeasing fans of the original works, and keeping the characters true to themselves and the audience.
The premiere episode of the series, “The Forty-Year-Old Virgin Queen” starts off curiously enough with Debra Messing in her best Elizabeth get-up proclaiming she has sworn off men, this curious flash, and another later in the episode showcasing the Creature’s creation in Frankenstein seemed horribly out of place in the dramedy. However, besides these scripting decision, The Starter Wife settles in nicely with its established characters, but for newcomers there isn’t a whole lot of character recapping besides Molly Kagan (Messing).
One of the biggest standouts, for better or worse, is the recasting of Kenny Kagan previously played by Peter Jacobson who is now in a fellowship on House. The producers chose to cast David Alan Basche in the role, which would make sense, except everything physically about this Kenny and the former-Kenny are completely different. Jacobson fit into the roll much better, everything about him and the way the character was played screamed Hollywood exec, however Basche, in no part his fault, just seems miss-cast when you look at the way the character was portrayed in the mini-series.
The series continues it’s lampooning of the Hollywood elite upper class and the art of making movies and surviving in such a world as $5000 boots are nothing. Messing brings Molly to life as a woman shunned from her previous life and looking for something new and independent, a way to make a name for herself and not just as an ex-wife of a Hollywood big timer. She brings the right balance of comedy and drama to the role, where appropriate, which is helped by a script that produces a few laugh-out-loud moments, but overall keeps things more sly than coming right out and forcing an applause light to blink.
The episode sets in motion a few different sub-plots and B-story lines for the secondary characters, the most notable is Chris Diamantopoulos’ Rodney who is hired as an interior designer for a big star and immediately begins crushing on him. Sure he’s the token gay guy in the ensemble, but he steals most of the scenes he’s in.
Newcomers to the show are suggested to pick up the mini-series on DVD and give it a go before diving into the series as to not be too lost on whom these characters are and why we find them where we do. Fans of the mini-series are sure to latch right back on where they left off, and it isn’t a terrible thing to do.