I caught the pilot episode of ‘Men In Trees’ earlier this week and decided I needed to re-watch it before I could properly review it. With all the new shows coming out this season, its safe to say that some are going to hit and others are going to miss. I’m not sure where I’d place ‘Men in Trees’ at this point.
Off the bat I’ll say this – I really liked the pilot episode. The story revolves around Marin Frist, played by Anne Heche, a successful “relationship coach” who has just released a book on dating and is set to tour the country promoting it. The show opens with clips of Frist giving various motivational speeches to packed crowds of hopeful women. She talks of self-esteem, finding love and most importantly, not defining one’s self worth by their romantic relationships. Frist is engaged to be married to a seemingly perfect guy, she’s replaced her smoking habit with spinning classes and it looks like her book is going to be a huge hit. Then on her way to a book signing in Alaska, she finds out that her fiancé has been cheating on her. That’s when everything pretty much unravels.
Frist arrives in Elmo, Alaska, which is a fishing town. Why she’s promoting her book in this town, I’m not entirely sure but she’s only supposed to be there for one day. If you’ve ever seen the movie Mystery, Alaska, Elmo is very similar to how Mystery was portrayed, minus all of the hockey. There are men everywhere – in the bars, on the plows and yes, even up in the trees.
The characters in the show are definitely what will either make or break the series. Frist’s character has that over-confident edge but she’s not without a heart. She is clearly a fish out of icy-cold water in this town though. Though the town of Elmo is heavily populated by men, the show is not without females. Annie, played by Emily Bergl is one of Frist’s groupies (or stalkers, depending on how you look at it) who literally followed Marin to Alaska to console her after hearing about her fiance’s betrayal. Annie is a kind-hearted woman who follows Frist’s teachings to the letter and is desperately looking to find love.
The local women include Theresa, played by Sarah Strange, the bartender in the town’s local watering hole and Sara (Suleka Mathew), the town’s “working girl”. Both females play strong characters who, despite being somewhat toughened up by the town, manage to carry themselves with a good combination of confidence and femininity and it definitely helps that they’re both gorgeous.
Among the men is Ben, the barman. Ben is played by Abraham Benrubi and aside from Heche, he’s one of the most recognizable of the cast. Benrubi played Jerry in ‘ER’ for years but I always associate him as “Kub” from ‘Parker Lewis Can’t Lose’. Another recognizable actor in the show is John Amos, who plays the role of Buzz, the guy with the plane. Amos is known for his role in the hit show ‘Good Times’ and more recently for his recurring guest starring role as Admiral Percy Fitzwallace in ‘The West Wing’.
Patrick, played by Derek Richardson, is the male equivilant to Annie in that he’s also a huge fan of Frist’s teachings. It’s no surprise that when he meets Annie, they hit it off immediately. Along with may other roles within the community, Patrick does a radio talk show. And last but certainly not least is Jack, played by James Tupper. Jack’s the McDreamy of this show. He’s the mysterious guy who will most likely end up being Frist’s love interest.
Basically the premise of the show is that after finding out that her fiance’s been cheating on her, Marin Frist begins to realize she hasn’t been practicing what she’s been preaching. She decides to stay in Elmo and figure things out. After a number of amusing scenes in which we quickly learn that this city gal is going to have a hard time getting accustomed to small-town Alaskan life, Frist decides she has a lot to learn about men and Elmo is the perfect place for her to do it. The pilot episode ends with Marin throwing her ten thousand dollar wedding gown off a cliff and then settling in at Patrick’s morning radio show to answer questions about relationships.
What can we expect from ‘Men In Trees’? From the first episode I’d say there will be a bit of drama blended nicely with a sort of ‘Desperate Housewives’-ish humor. If you like Anne Heche, you will like Marin Frist. She’s somewhat tightly wound but definitely not unlovable or even unlikable. She’s really just a woman who needs to learn how to breath. The pilot episode gave us a good glimpse into the premise of the show as well as the depth of the characters. If the series can live up to the pilot, there’s a good chance the show can gain a following.
The pilot episode will be re-airing Friday, September 15th at 8:00 pm EST on ABC followed immediately but an all-new episode at 9 pm