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Grading Betty White's sitcom return
The 88-year-old TV star's new show, "Hot in Cleveland," premiered Wednesday. What do the critics make of it?
 
White at the premiere of "Hot in Cleveland."
White at the premiere of "Hot in Cleveland."
Getty

Fresh off her high-profile gig hosting "Saturday Night Live" in May, 88-year-old entertainment legend Betty White is starring in the new sitcom, "Hot in Cleveland." White plays the sharp-tongued caretaker in a house where three Los Angeles women wind up when their plane to Paris abruptly lands in Ohio. The show premiered on the TV Land network Wednesday evening. Is it worth watching? (Watch a clip featuring Betty White)

Absolutely. Betty White makes the show work: "Hot in Cleveland" is "pleasant enough," says Alan Sepinwall at HitFix, but it "really only comes to life" when White is on screen. Her "well-honed talent" shines through, even if "good vibes from past roles" may be one reason the studio audience goes "nuts" over lines "that barely even qualify as jokes." 2010 is definitely "The Year of Betty White."
"Review: Hot in Cleveland"

Hot in Cleveland's other stars aren't bad, either: Betty White is terrific, but so is the rest of the cast, says Paige Wiser at the Chicago Sun-Times. It's great to see one-time "it" girl Valerie Bertinelli back on TV, and "Frasier"'s Jane Leeves and "Just Shoot Me"'s Wendie Malick are "sharper than ever." This sitcom may be "formulaic," but it has "tremendous good will on its side."  
"TV Land's Hot in Cleveland"

Everybody's just afraid to say anything bad about Betty White: This show is nothing but a "standard laugh-track sitcom," says Willa Paskin at New York magazine, but it's getting positive reviews out of respect for its eldest star. "In the court of public opinion, it is currently illegal to make fun of Betty White." Maybe "Hot in Cleveland" isn't quite bad enough to "force people to say uncomplimentary things about one of White's projects," but will anything ever be?
"Is it now illegal to criticize Betty White?"

 

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