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TV Series Review

It could be said that yesteryear's TV stars never really go away. Instead, after their big shows get callously cancelled (as they always do, one way or another), the actors lie low for a bit ... and then pop back up in either a reality show or on a cable sitcom. Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and Joey Lawrence (Blossom) have opted for the latter scenario. And so here they are on ABC Family's Melissa & Joey. No doubt channel execs hope the presence of two former teen phenoms—who, it seems, we're meant to recognize from their first names alone—will give their show an edge in the increasingly fragmented world of network and cable television.

Hart plays Mel Burke, a feisty Toledo, Ohio, city councilwoman from a well-known political family. Her own aspirations, however, have been saddled by an unexpected responsibility: guardianship of her teenage niece and nephew, Lennox and Ryder Scanlon, after their parents get busted as masterminds of a global scam.

Mel has no shortage of affection for her charges. But the former sorority-girl wild child fancies herself more a cool big sister than anything resembling a disciplined parent. Given her own checkered past, Mel hardly knows which way is up when it comes to helping these two teens successfully navigate adolescence. Nor is she any better when it comes to basic household maintenance. Cooking? Cleaning? Help with homework? That's what nannies are for, reasons Mel.

Enter Joe Longo, a former hotshot commodities broker whose entire life—career, marriage, finances—got torpedoed by the Scanlons' scam. In a turn of events that could only happen in a sitcom, Joe convinces Mel that he can be the nanny, or manny, she's looking for. After all, he's got mad gourmet cooking skills and speaks fluent teen. And so he moves in—with Mel frequently letting him know that she has zero interest in him romantically. Right.

That's the narrative backdrop for Melissa & Joey. As for the situations in this sitcom, well, it's pretty typical fare—which is to say that sexual innuendo and deception both play big supporting roles all through the episodes. Positive moments and lessons, in contrast, are mostly reserved for a few minutes at the end.

When asked by Parade magazine, "Is your new show, Melissa & Joey, fun for the whole family?" Hart said, "No. It's on ABC Family, but it has the humor of a show like Two and a Half Men. It's a little dirty, a little racy, a little grown-up. You shouldn't let your 8-year-old see it."

OK. We'll just let her have the last word, then.

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Episode Reviews

MelissaandJoey: 5-30-2012
MelissaandJoey: 6-29-2011
MelissaandJoey: 8-24-2010
MelissaandJoey: 8-17-2010



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Melissa Joan Hart as Mel Burke; Joey Lawrence as Joe Longo; Taylor Spreitler as Lennox Scanlon; Nick Robinson as Ryder Scanlon




ABC Family


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