With "The Nanny" such a surprise hit for CBS, the network and stars/producers Fran Drescher, husband Peter Marc Jacobson, and others decided that in lieu of giving the public the "expected" spin-off (that being one featuring Sylvia and Yetta), they would offer a pilot about The Chatterbox, a hair salon where Sylvia often went to get her hair and nails (including her feet) done. Fran and the cast of "The Nanny" are contained very briefly, in the beginning, wherein Fran helps a young woman, Tracy Nelson, find work at the salon. Once she arrives at the salon, Fran disappears and the pilot begins in earnest. We are quickly introduced to Nelson's co-star, Patrick Cassidy, portraying a character much like Fran Fine's former fiance Danny: good-looking but very slick, very sleazy, very Queens (read: loud, in-your-face). And, just as "The Nanny" was a fish-out-of-water story - earthy, street-smart Fran Fine comes to invade the lives of the starchy, uptight WASP-y Maxwell Sheffield and family - so, too, is this, only going for the flip-side: Tracy Nelson is your typical soft-spoken, girl-next-door blonde tossed into a raucous, bustling, down-to-earth NYC beauty salon, complete with caustic side characters, including a wise-cracking receptionist. Folks, this kind of thing is nothing new, but when it comes to the tried-and-true it's how one spins it, how one adds something special to the mix, that makes it work; on "The Nanny", that "something special", other than the unique talents and vocal qualities of its star, Fran Drescher, was the very Jewish flavor throughout each and every episode. It also benefited from some often very smart writing and an absolutely vaudvillean sense of humor: not only ethnic but very broad, very simple, very human. Remove all of those aspects and you are left with "The Chatterbox". Working with a tired script filled with mirthless jokes, the usually likable Tracy Nelson is overwhelmed, seeming a bit uncomfortable with the show (an understandable situation), and exhibiting ZERO chemistry with a hilariously miscast Cassidy, who, while very handsome, cannot deliver as a lady-killer; his attempts at a Brooklyn accent as painful. As for the rest of the cast, no one - with the exception of the receptionist character (who would make a couple of appearances on "The Nanny") - makes even the slightest comedic impact; this has as much to do with their talents as it does the simple fact that a bunch of one-liners does not a show make. It's awfully easy to see why CBS passed this one up. You'd be wise to do the same. If you are a "Nanny" completist, go ahead and watch it; if you are, however, merely a casual watcher of the show, or new to it entirely, it's best to follow the network's example. Hell, Lifetime plays the bejeezus out of this show and even THEY rarely play it! (Imagine that: LIFETIME showing actual RESTRAINT! Will wonders never cease...)
This is not one of The Nanny's best episodes. It is obvious to tell that this is simply a pilot for a spin-off, but even more so obvious is that it is a failed one. The Nanny cast is hardly present in the episode, and the crew from the Chatterbox is so incredibly annoying except for the hilarious manicurist. The set is tacky, the dialogue dumbed down, and the whole concept is incredibly boring. For a Nanny fan, this episode is a major let-down, and for anyone who isn't familiar with The Nanny, please don't become familiar with this episode. Please.
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