Sensible Andrew and emotive Lauren Stone are happily married. When they decide to embrace the 'joys of parenthood', their lives change, and those of her brother Danny and selfish boss (plus...
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Sensible Andrew and emotive Lauren Stone are happily married. When they decide to embrace the 'joys of parenthood', their lives change, and those of her brother Danny and selfish boss (plus her PA), his staff and both their friends sets. And everything is compared to another couple, longer pregnant and sooner parents, Eric and Julie, in 'friendly' rivalry. Written by
Based on Risa Green's novel, "Notes form the Underbelly" is a wacky screwball sitcom about the wacky state of pregnancy. Lauren (Jennifer Westfeldt, Kissing Jessica Stein) has just become the mom to be and while starting to adjust to the changes in her body, she and her husband Andrew (Peter Cambor) start to worry about the changes in their lifestyle. Their friends divide into two camps. On one end we have the overzealous pro-baby zombies in the form of Melanie Moore and Sunkrish Bala, new parents themselves. On the other end we have self-indulgent sex-hounds friends Rachael Harris and Michael Weaver who relish the single life.
I just realize that that summary might mistakenly give the impression that "Notes" is about pregnancy in any depth. It really isn't. There is no satire or commentary on baby peer pressure, body image issues, financial strains, babysitters, baby apparel or anything else baby related. The subject is a frame, inside which the show fills with generic lame one-liners, cartoonish slapstick and broadly drawn characters.
My simmering crush on Jennifer Westfeldt only informs about 10% of this review, as that cheery-eye, sweet-faced actress who stole the early days of "Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place" for me and made the word marinate seem new in "Kissing Jessica Stein" has been now run through the Hollywood sitcom leading lady machine, where her job is to stand around, look pretty and spout the one-liners and lame innuendos produced by Scriptbot 5000 . She's not quite the nagging sitcom wife here, but there's something lifeless and cliché neurotic about Lauren. And I sat through "Holding the Baby" for this woman.
Andrew is the type of goofball husband that would only be married to Lauren in a sitcom. With no chemistry between the couple it's a paper thin phony dynamic. But the supporting cast is where the obnoxious meter goes into the red zone. Weaver as loafing brother Danny is asking for a punch in the face and Moore is over-the-top cutesy in the gag-inducing sweetheart role. This show really, really wants to hit your cute receptors.
The only person here who comes out, not only unscathed, but for the better is Rachael Harris. Hell, the show successfully turns Harris even while sporting black librarian glasses - into a wholly convincing sex-pot in a way I couldn't have imagined before. Cooper is set up like the go-to wild card character for edgy laughs and great lines, the Samantha Jones if you will, if only the show could deliver some worthy material for Harris' acerbic comic timing to zip through.
One would think that a show about only one thing might be able to comically explore that subject with some depth, as "Sex and the City" explored dating and sex with wit and intelligence. "Notes" is a show only a mother could love. If you truly want an insightful and hilarious look at pregnancy in an all around great show, go for the final season of BBC's "Coupling".
* / 4
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