Screen Savors: A show best left for the expecting

'Notes from the Underbelly' is all new but doesn't get too far past amusing in parts - like looking at baby pictures.

By ARYEH DEAN COHEN
October 11, 2007 13:37
3 minute read.
Screen Savors: A show best left for the expecting

underbelly notes 88. (photo credit: )

We're at that age where if we want to recall what pregnancy was like, we have to pull out the scrapbooks. Not that we don't get a craving every once in a while for those very special days, but there is something to be said for sleeping through the night without having to get up to prepare someone a sardine sandwich. But for the cast of Notes From the UnderbellyKissing Jessica Stein) and Peter Cambor are cute as a button. Maybe too cute. So are some of the little plot development twists used in the pilot, like having Andrew say that "Procreation isn't something to be taken lightly. I mean, you don't wake up one morning and decide to have kids," followed by a graphic saying: "One morning, five months ago," followed by Andrew turning to Lauren in bed and saying: "I think it's time we had kids." Thanks to some encouragement from the subway scene in Risky Business (check it out for yourself with someone you love), Lauren's soon checking her home pregnancy test in the bathroom, ready to give up whitewater rafting for pregnancy. Hey - either way, you get a little queasy. Naturally, there have to be sidekicks in a situation comedy, and Lauren and Andrew have 'em. There's the hyper and extremely pregnant Julie, married to Eric, who are so eager for everything to go right that they even wake up at 3 a.m. to practice nursing a doll. There's crazy single friend Danny, who can't understand what the charm of pregnancy is all about and is basically there to make non-PC comments about the whole situation. But best of all, there's Cooper (Rachael Harris, whose improv work shows in her great performance), a single divorce lawyer who carries condoms in her grandmother's cigarette case and thinks all her married/pregnant friends are nuts. You have to admire the determination of a woman willing to have sex in her car with a mourner who has just split up with his wife only moments after he's attended a funeral. There are some truly sappy moments in this show, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black), as when Lauren tells Andrew she decided to have kids after a little girl who mistook her for her mom pulled on her pants leg while she was dress shopping. "I want to be the right pants," she tells him. Groan. But there are some really good ones, too, as when our expecting couple goes to Julie's over-the-top baby shower. First they see a couple holding their new baby who tell them: "It's the best thing that ever happened to us." But suddenly another couple, who look like something out of Sonnenfeld's Addams Family Values, orders them to "come with us." Walking through the house, the drawn, drained pair tell Adam and Lauren having a baby is "horrible." "Soul-crushing," says the spouse. "Biggest mistake we ever made." "We don't sleep." "We don't have sex." "Breastfeeding destroyed my boobs." By the time the couple walks off, Adam and Lauren wonder whether they're in over their heads. Still, in the final analysis, cutesie overtakes funny far too often. "This is a huge deal," says Andrew, "we're having a baby." "Promise me that we'll be miserable together," asks Lauren as the gushy music starts to swell. "Promise," he says. Roll credits. Episode two focuses on the pluses and minuses of buying a minivan, Lauren's food cravings, and features important declarations like Lauren stating: "There's a baby coming and we all need to be ready for it." For those in a family way, Notes From the Underbelly will likely have you nodding in identification. There appears to be a plentiful supply of pregnant or about-to-be-pregnant couples out there, since the April replacement show has been picked up for another season. For the rest of us, be happy you don't have baby spit-up all over your clothes and maybe tape it for your kids who are expecting and too tired to remember to turn on the VCR.


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