the early word

Pilot Preview: CBS’ ‘Project Gary’ Gives Jay Mohr a Job

Courtesy of CBS

This week, Vulture’s taking a look at the best and worst of the fall season’s picked-up TV shows. Which are good? Can anything replace Cavemen? And, most important, what’s worth a DVR season pass?

Title: Project Gary

Stars: Jay Mohr, Paula Marshall, Larry Miller, Jaime King

Network: CBS, Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.

The pitch: Jay Mohr stars as Gary Barnes, a recently divorced father of two who must learn to balance his new single life with his neurotic ex-wife. High jinks ensue.

Pilot report: Three months after getting divorced from his wife of fifteen years, Gary, a painting contractor, hooks up with Vanessa (King), a woman whose condo he’s painting. After a hot first night, things are looking promising — that is, until Gary’s ex-wife Allison (Marshall) shows up in the morning to drop off their two preteen kids. It turns out Gary forgot to mention he was carrying some extra baggage, which sends Vanessa angrily out the back door. In order to get a second shot, Gary must prove to Vanessa that he can have an honest relationship with her by being open about things with his anal-retentive ex. When Gary begins to confess to Allison that he’s ready to move forward with his life, she trumps him by revealing that she’s engaged — to their former marriage counselor (Miller). Awkward. Luckily, Vanessa takes Gary back, but not without revealing that she’s got some baggage of her own: She’s a single mom. Guess everyone’s even now! And so this crazy multi-cam family happily ends their day eating pizza together.

Representative dialogue:

Gary: Allison, what are you doing here? It’s not my weekend.
Allison: All you have in your refrigerator is two beers and a bottle of ranch dressing.
Gary: Yeah, I know, I’m running low on beer.

Breakout star: With turns in Nip/Tuck, Veronica Mars, and Out of Practice, Paula Marshall isn’t exactly new to prime time — but thanks to her solid deadpan delivery, she makes her character enjoyable beyond the limits of the shrill ex-wife stereotype.

Worth a season pass? Even if the crop of fall offerings is famine-thin, we’re afraid not. The kids are props, Jaime King is just another hot chick, and we could barely identify Christopher Guest company favorite Larry Miller in the wreckage. And Jay Mohr? Old dog, old tricks. —Jessica Coen

Pilot Preview: CBS’ ‘Project Gary’ Gives Jay Mohr a Job