Anna Faris, right, and Allison Janney in a scene from...

Anna Faris, right, and Allison Janney in a scene from "Mom," premiering Monday, Sept. 23 at 9:30 p.m. EST. Credit: AP


WHEN|WHERE Premieres Monday night at 9:30 on CBS/2

REASON TO WATCH It's goofy. It's biting. It's sentimental.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT It's all over the place, this "Mom," the latest from CBS' comedy machine Chuck Lorre. Did that Plainview native cut his writer-

producer teeth on "Roseanne"? And "Grace Under Fire"? And "Cybill"? Yes. Yes, he did.

Which explains the echoes infusing this portrait of what are actually two moms. Anna Faris plays waitress Christy, a spunky single parent who goes unrespected by her carousing teen daughter, her drug-dealing ex and her philandering boss/boyfriend. Allison Janney is Christy's bad-role-model mother, Bonnie, roaring back into town on the make for men and merriment. "While other mothers were cooking dinner," blames Christy, "you were cooking meth." "Otherwise known as working!" snaps Bonnie.

MY SAY The pilot's envelope-pushing is caustic and obvious, two things "Mom" seems better than. Faris is both gutsy and touching as the adult trying to get her act together, while Janney's crafty adolescence extends to a third generation around Faris' two kids. (There's also a young boy who seems smart: "My semen at work," brags his mostly AWOL dad.)

Lorre knows what he's doing with modern families -- he wrote some of "Roseanne's" best lines -- and he's got a better actress playing his new mom under fire. Her bistro workplace also features gonzo chef French Stewart ("3rd Rock From the Sun"), adding promise to the place.

BOTTOM LINE Could go either way. Just like mom's kids.


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