American Broadcasting Company

'Bless This Mess' Review: Lake Bell's Spin on 'Green Acres' Yields a Fine Start

Gone are the days when a pilot’s charms or lack thereof dictate the series’ future — today, many audiences wait to sample until there are enough episodes available to fill a Saturday afternoon, or they’re alerted by a trusted source (professional or otherwise) that, “Hey, this show got good!

Bell, who wrote and directed the pilot after co-creating the series with Meriwether, plays Rio, a born-and-bred New Yorker who leaves her successful therapist practice behind to move to Nebraska with her husband, Mike (Dax Shepard).

The newlywed couple were bestowed a working farm by one of Mike’s deceased relatives, and they jump at the chance to escape the busy, crowded, noisy Big Apple life and reinvent themselves as hardworking, blue collar, dirt-in-their-fingernails Americans.

But “Bless This Mess” makes a few key updates: Instead of the husband, Oliver Wendell Douglas, giving up his profitable practice to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a farmer, Mike is a music writer who [ spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the pilot] has been laid off and only suggests the switch to farming in order to cover his ass.

It’s also clear that, when done well, the “Green Acres” setup is ripe for all sorts of comedy — physical (like Rio’s fear of cows) and topical (like the aforementioned differences between farmers and city folk).

But after one episode, shot long ago and likely adjusted in unanticipated new directions based on ABC executives’ reception of it, “Bless This Mess” is similar to its couple: as likely to crash and burn as it is to thrive.

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