'Melissa & Joey' review: 'Who's the Boss?' without the Mona

melissa-&-joey-cast.jpgABC Family is introducing a new sitcom, "Melissa & Joey" to their line-up -- a "Who's the Boss?" for 2010.

It centers around a city councilwoman named Mel Burke ( Melissa Joan Hart), who becomes the legal guardian of her teenage niece and nephew in the wake of her sister and brother-in-law going to jail for white collar crimes.

Joe Longo ( Joey Lawrence) is one of the victims of said crimes. He loses his job, condo and car and instead ends up as Mel's nanny. Wacky hijinks ensue. Or at least that's what the laugh track would have us think.

The main points of our amusement in the first episode come in the form of Mel's interactions with her colleague Rhonda ( Elizabeth Ho) -- they have a dueling phone conversations scene that is particularly delightful -- but overall the laughs are few and far between.

What the show is lacking is a sexual tension between the leads, despite what the success of their ABC Family movie "My Fake Fiance" may have led you to believe. Hart and Lawrence do not have the flirty banter, will-they-or-won't-they vibe going on, which leaves the audience not caring about the barbs exchanged between the two or Mel's lackluster love life.

The show also lacks an adult feel. Hart and Lawrence may both be 34 in real life, but they seem like a couple of goofy 25-year-olds put in charge of teenagers. A feeling of responsibility on their parts might go a long way. We also kept hoping for a character like "Boss?'s" freewheeling grandmother Mona to pop in.

"Melissa & Joey" isn't terrible by any means, but it needs to stop telling us when to laugh by way of the way of the laugh track and needs to age the adults a bit. Maybe then we will become invested. In all honestly, we'll give it another episode or two before we lop it off the DVR schedule -- but we aren't optimistic.

"Melissa & Joey" premieres in back-to-back episodes Tuesday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family.

Take a look at a preview clip from the show:



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Photo credit: ABC Family

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