by pat howard

SITCOMS | More like ‘Rita’ meddles

In Lifetime, The CW on January 5, 2009 at 7:52 pm

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about Lifetime’s Nicole Sullivan sitcom Rita Rocks, which moves to Mondays at 8:30p/7:30c starting with tonight’s new episode.

I’ve been a huge Sullivan fan since the middle years of Mad TV, which she dominated with characters such as the Vancome Lady. I even watched the horrible Talk To Me a few years back. And I was glad she found steady work as the dog walker on the later seasons of The King of Queens.

Finally someone has come up with a vehicle for her, and I have to admit I expected it to be a disaster. As a harried mother, Rita juggles kids, husband Richard Ruccolo (who remembers Two Guys and a Girl?), and part-time employment with little time for herself. So of course she starts a garage band with the mom from My Wife and Kids, the gay coffee shop manager from Felicity, and Phil of the Future on drums.

The early episodes were a little rough, but the cast’s chemistry smoothed that over until the writing picked up. Lately, the show has hit its stride, the keys to which seemed to be straying from the original concept (Post-It notes and awkward band storylines) and embracing the fact that it’s your typical family sitcom.

So instead of rocking out with the band, Rita meddles in the lives of those around her, with a predictable rate of success. A recent episode had bandmate/neighborhood mail carrier Tisha Campbell-Martin and Rita spying on their bandmate, whom they suspect of cheating on Rita’s daughter. It turned out that the drummer boy was cheating — on Rita and friends — by moonlighting with another band.

Given producer Media Rights Capital’s recent high-profile failure programming The CW’s Sunday nights, they caught a needed break, with Rita qualifying as a hit by Lifetime standards. Yeah, yeah. That Lifetime. Fine then. Don’t watch it. It’s not going to be winning any Emmys, I grant you. But if you do, don’t say I didn’t warn you if you laugh out loud just a little bit.

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