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Dr. Ruby Stern
What About Joan looks and feels way too much like every other lame sitcom. It doesn't have the energy or the chemistry of a Will & Grace breakout, and it's definitely nowhere near as spastic or original as Malcolm in the Middle.
There's room for improvement in What About Joan, but Cusack is the right star at the right time in what may turn out to be the right show.
What's not so great about the show is that [Joan] Cusack is so neurotic that everything she says seems to carry with it the threat of sudden self-immolation.
The show is smart and sweet, and [Joan] Cusack is adorably down-to-earth.
What About Joan is full of clever and cute touches, smart dialogue, believably zany characters and a sense of being very contemporary even though few if any topical names are dropped.
I just found [Joan] Cusack's character, meant to be kooky and charming, mostly offputting. She blurts out words like "charlatan," and it's funny. And she certainly suggests a rich inner life. But she doesn't know when to pull back.
What About Joan boasts some bright writing and an appealing ensemble, which comes together like H2 and O.
What About Joan has a good sense of its lead character, but the supporting cast is not quite up to muster.
[Joan] Cusack is surrounded by people with whom she has no chemistry, and the writing seems to get worse with each episode.
[Joan] Cusack is certainly an appealing actress and she does her best mugging her way through the thin material in the first two episodes. Chandler, however, plays such a dull guy that he makes Thomas Gibson (Greg) seem like Gilbert Gottfried.
There are [James L.] Brooks touches here, but while they were brilliant and seminal when they first appeared, they've been recycled too many times.
Joan Cusack is an enormously gifted comic actress. And this new series is nothing if not a showcase for the star's talents. Yet there were times during the first two episodes when I wanted to tell her, "Relax -- you passed the audition already."
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