I'm utterly ambivalent about ABC's new comedy, "Notes From the Underbelly," which premieres tonight at 10 p.m. before moving to its regular Wednesday time slot. And maybe that's appropriate, because the show is about the utter ambivalence its main characters feel toward having a child. Based on a novel by Risa Green, the show focuses on Andrew (Peter Cambor) and Lauren (Jennifer Westfeldt), who want to have a baby before it's too late, then — after quickly getting pregnant — immediately decide it's too soon.
"Notes" isn't terrible; there were a lot of moments I liked in the first three episodes, and it's amusing, if not laugh-out-loud funny. But overall, the show seems flat, with one-dimensional supporting characters and jokes that don't quite hit the mark.
The best part about "Notes" is the central couple, who view parenthood with a mix of curiosity, excitement and total dread. Lauren is by far the show's most interesting character, mocking her pregnant friends' over-the-top doting while longing, at least a little, to be one of those moms herself. But "Notes" falls apart with its stereotypical supporting characters, so
Lauren's shrieky pregnant friend, Julie, is supposed to be overbearing, but she's far too obnoxious to be funny. The aggressively single friend, Cooper, is well-played by "Daily Show" alum Rachael Harris, but even she is written thinly; her "career gal" characterization consists of little more than a power suit, a Palm Pilot, and a pair of glasses. Andrew's guy friend is even worse: The sitcom sidekick is supposed to be there for laughs, but his jokes miss the mark.
"Notes" also seems too limited to be a TV show. After all, what happens when Andrew and Lauren's baby is born? Frankly, I don't think "Notes" will be around long enough to face that problem. Check out this clip and let me know: Will you be watching?
Photo copyright 2007 ABC, Inc.