ABC’s “Trophy Wife” debuted with one of the funniest comedy pilots of the season and looked to be a promising series. Its second episode, “Cold File” takes a bit of a step back and falls into the formula of standard family sitcom fodder that is so familiar to TV viewers. Some of the subversive tone of the initial episode has gone and replaced with straightforward comedy, which isn’t horrible, but it would be nice to see the show straddle the line more often than not. The episode is amusing enough but the clichéd and familiar B-story was so uninspired that it soured the entire half hour. Do we really need another sitcom scenario in which the reckless kids spill something on the couch? The storyline played out predictably and therefore wasn’t all that funny. Marcia Gay Harden did pull off the almost creepily sociopathic mother role rather well and found some comedy in the tired material, but the kids’ performances were borderline cheesy (though I will not fault them because the main issue is the actual writing). Still, every time the show cut to the two kids and their salsa paranoia, my interest diminished significantly.

The show is at its strongest when it focuses on Malin Akerman’s character, Kate, and her attempts to immerse herself into her husband’s domestic life. She is by far the best thing the show has going for it. Admittedly, putting a kid to sleep isn’t exactly the freshest plotline introduced in a sitcom; the writing was strong enough to support it. Albert Tsai who plays Bert is a good performer (probably the best out of the three kids) and was given a lot of wacky to do and he played it wonderfully. I mean, “I’m the sun, I’m the moon, I’m Christmas!” come on, that was funny. Him and Malin Akerman worked well together and their scenes together elicited quite a few chuckles. Bradley Whitford is good as the supporting dad/husband straight man with occasional goofy bits here and there. His chemistry with Ackerman is pleasant and believable, they seem at ease with each other which totally sells the relationship.

I missed Natalie Morales, who played Kate’s best friend in the pilot episode. Her scenes in the pilot were very funny, which coincidentally involved Bert (that kid is good), but I can see how difficult it could be to justify her presence each week. Especially if the writers want to concentrate on Kate’s home and family life. I’d still like to see more of her though.

“Trophy Wife” has emerged as one of the best new comedies this season and hopefully audiences will give it the opportunity to grow and improve because it definitely has a lot of potential.

Other Observations:

  • I don’t know yet whether I hate or am amused by Ryan Lee’s manic/over the top delivery of most of his lines. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Also, I am constantly distracted by his giant chompers, those things are insane.
  • Loved the intentionally horrible bedtime stories, “ ‘I’m not afraid of your breath’, and he gave the dragon a kiss. And that’s how the dragon learned to love.” Ha.
  • Last week had Kate amusingly drunk, this week Bert is hysterically drunk on caffeine, what drug-induced hilarity will come next?
  • “There is a fire. Look, there’s an eagle.” Kate’s pathetic attempts for attention during breakfast were pretty great.  Malin Akerman’s line reading was fantastic.