NBC wants more “Kath & Kim”

NBC has just ordered a full season (nine more episodes) of the new comedy Kath & Kim, starring Molly Shannon and Selma Blair.

As we told you when the show first premiered, Kath & Kim is a remake of a popular Australian sitcom of the same name, and the creators of the original Australian production (Gina Riley and Jane Turner) are producers of the U.S. version.

Despite more than a few negative reviews (The San Francisco Chronicle called it “a contender for worst remake ever”), the show has benefited from an excellent time slot, following the NBC hit My Name is Earl and leading into popular shows The Office and 30 Rock.

As a loyal Molly Shannon fan, I am happy to see her continue her well-deserved turn on primetime television. It’s been depressing to see her immense talent relegated to tiny roles in movies like Talladega Nights or one-off television appearances (Pushing Daisies, 30 Rock). I will watch her in just about anything, which is exactly why I try to watch Kath and Kim.

I try.

Unlike the naysayers who object to the U.S. remake being a sad shadow of the Australian Kath & Kim‘s former glory, I came to the show without any of those expectations. I’d never seen the original, and even if I had, I’d be open to the possibility that the remake could be just as good or better. (I can’t sit through a whole episode of the original British version of The Office, but the U.S. incarnation is one of my all-time favorite programs.)

Still, I can’t bring myself to enjoy Kath and Kim. Molly Shannon is, as always, great. Her character is funny, endearing and unintentionally kooky. John Michael Higgins (Best in Show), who plays her love interest, very nearly steals the show out from under her. I root for his character and his little sandwich shop, and he and Shannon make a perfectly goofy couple.

As for the rest of the show, I just don’t get it. Selma Blair, as Kath’s self-absorbed and immature daughter, seems to be playing dumb instead of living it. And all of the press about how much weight she gained for the role (20 pounds) is somewhat distracting. I watch her character’s “constant” eating and think, “She still looks skinny to me!” While Shannon and Higgins make magic together in all of their scenes, Shannon and Blair’s interactions feel like an off-key duet.

Maybe it’s just me, and maybe I’ll grow to love the show now that there will be additional episodes to (hopefully) enjoy. But the fact that Australian television canceled the U.S. Kath & Kim after only two episodes doesn’t bode well for its future here.

And even if Kath & Kim doesn’t get a second season, let’s hope that Shannon keeps her primetime comeback momentum. Television without Molly Shannon is a sad and boring thing indeed. Don’t get me started, don’t even get me started!