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Review: The New Adventures of Old Christine - Old Christine Meets Young Frankenstein

by Jason Hughes, posted Dec 10th 2009 11:47AM
The New Adventures of Old Christine: Old Christine Meets Young Frankenstein(S05E10) When a bully is revealed at the school Little Ritchie attends, Christine is clearly worried that her son is being victimized. But while Old Christine followed the traditional sitcom formula for a bit at the beginning, by the time we reached the end of the episode, it had gone somewhere only Christine Campbell can take it.

Even better we got a surprise return, though it's something I've kind of been waiting for all season, and a hilarious guest appearance by Amy Sedaris. I can't understand why Sedaris hasn't blown up even bigger than she has. If Michael Strahan can get a big network comedy built around him, why they hell can't Amy Sedaris?

She took what could have been a pretty ordinary guest appearance, and turned it into a powerhouse performance all on its own through sheer force of will and talent.

As soon as it was revealed that there was a bully, we knew it was Little Ritchie. After seeing what Christine had given him for lunch (ketchup packets, cheese and a bagel), it's no wonder he's hitting up some other kid for lunch money. And yet, when asked about it, I love his enthusiastic response: "I know! Isn't it great!" He was so proud of himself.

So that's it then, we get an episode about Ritchie learning a lesson about respecting others, right? Not on your life. Christine made the entire incident about herself, and decided to alleviate her own bully-guilt by seeking out her childhood victim, Frances Stein AKA Frankenstein. Thus entereth Amy Sedaris, who seems to have come out of it alright after some extensive plastic surgery to make her head round.

But when Frances wouldn't accept Christine's insincere apology, Christine sent Barb to talk to her, leading to the funniest scene of the night. While Barb was trying to be friendly about it, Frances only saw Barb as a big street goon hired by Christine to possibly kill her and murder her entire family. Possibly racist on Stein's part, or possibly a realistic reaction considering Barb's general demeanor of toughness and Stein's past with Christine's cruelty.

Things spiraled even more out of control when Stein tried to keep Christine from sending out any more goons and went to the gym to apologize. That led to her tied to a chair. What works so well about these kinds of episodes is that it truly all started out as an intent by Christine to do a good thing. Granted, she was kind of forced into it by Richard, Matthew and Little Ritchie, but she was seeking to genuinely apologize. It was just unacceptable to consider that she might not have that apology accepted.

Thank god for Barb in her life, to bully when necessary, or Christine might have gone to jail the moment Frances could get clear of that gym and reach for her cell phone.

It's the fact that Christine does turn those sitcom conventions on their heads, and that Christine herself is such a mess of a character that this show works so well. Now, while we can still sometimes predict how events will turn, it's because we've come to know the unpredictable nature of Christine. We can anticipate that she'll do something stupid, and possibly even why. It's an oxymoron to say, but even though she truly is a bad person, she's not a bad person. Which is just how we like her.

[To relive some of her worst moments, check out clips of The New Adventures of Old Christine on SlashControl.]

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Yet Christine never realized that Richie was hitting kids up for their lunch money because he himself as underfed. Christine won't be winning "mother of the year" anytime soon.

December 12 2009 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Have liked the show but this one didn't do it. Not funny. Mean is operative word. Mutt & Jeff lady parents are getting nowhere. Background noise. Lead is getting old herself and show just does feel like on last legs. Had its run.

December 10 2009 at 2:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is it my imagination or did the actor playing the son change recently? Did a new kid get the job with the new season?

December 10 2009 at 1:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mike's comment

Nope - same kid.. He grew a bit and got braces (I think).

December 10 2009 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show is great. Funny as hell.
Barb has the best lines. Love her.

December 10 2009 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This one just got mean. And not in a silly way. No one could get away with threatening then kidnapping someone then threatening them again. Christine has devolved into a simplistic lush.No one is that stupid. Not funny. I see the end of the series. One more season if this is the way the plot lines will go.

December 10 2009 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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